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First new JCPenney store in eight years officially opens for business

The Willowbrook Mall’s new anchor is welcoming shoppers.

On Friday, April 5, JCPenney celebrated 50 years in Wayne, N.J. by unveiling its new anchor store at Willowbrook Mall. The grand reopening saw over 500 customers who received thousands of dollars’ worth of gift cards, while a few shoppers also received gifts such as a diamond necklace, full size Olaplex products, and JLo perfume.

As previously reported in Chain Store Age, the store is JCPenney’s first new opening in eight years, and located in a two-level, 120,000-sq.-ft. anchor space that formerly housed Lord & Taylor, which went dark about three years ago. 

Opening weekend sales beat plan by 48% and the store was the second-highest performing location in the company, according to JCPenney. More than 50% of all transactions were made on a JCPenney credit card. In addition, the store has filed over 650 applications for a JCPenney credit card since the soft opening on March 14.

The store is part of a broader plan called “Make It Count” that will see the company spend over $1 billion to have more than 650 stores undergo varying updates, including enhanced store look and feel, improved technology and associate tools and physical upgrades. 

Additions like a new point-of-sale system will be designed to better integrate with inventory, and upgrades to in-store Wi-Fi networks will be intended to provide faster, more reliable connections for customers and associates. More than 100 stores have already been completed, including the Wayne location.

The new JCPenney features some 65,000 square feet of selling space and offers a more modern, less cluttered environment. Additional features include increased use of mannequins, moveable fixtures that allow easy changes based on selling trends, improved category adjacencies and bright LED lighting, according to a report by WWD.  

Also, a rotating shop for home and holiday items on the first floor serves as a preview for the chain’s full home assortment on the second floor.  The new store also puts a spotlight on Penney’s private label brands, which have been upgraded, with enhanced presentations, the report said.

“The new JCPenney store concept in Wayne, N.J. is bringing a refreshing new take to the in-person department store shopping experience,” said Michelle Wlazlo, chief merchandising officer for JCPenney. “We are dedicated to making the in-store experience more inviting and productive for the diverse, working families we serve.”

“Today’s grand opening is a continuation of JCPenney’s 50-year presence in the heart of this community and we’re so happy to enter this new chapter of our story in this town,” said Missy Ioanna, JCPenney district manager over the Wayne location. “Willowbrook Mall is a thriving retail center, and we’re honored to join our neighbors in calling this space home.”

JCPenney, which emerged from bankruptcy in late 2020 under new owners Brookfield Asset Management and Simon Property Group, currently operates 650-plus stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

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