Sequim’s JCPenney, a longtime staple for local shoppers, will close spring 2021 after a liquidation sale starting tentatively later this month.
“It’s really, really sad,” store general manager Beverly Nelson said.
Following a move from Port Angeles., the clothing retailer at 651 W. Washington St., moved into the former Safeway store in 1995 at the Sequim Village Shopping Center.
Staff said they learned of the pending closure on Dec. 10.
JCPenney’s website confirms the closure as “closing spring 2021.”
Stores in Omak, Sunnyside and Vancouver, Wa., have already closed in Washington state, the website states, as part of a “store optimization strategy” to close up to 200 stores through financial restructuring.
Last Monday, the retailer’s sale to Simon Property Group and Brookfield Asset Management Inc., was finalized with the company set to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy sometime next year.
JCPenney representatives said the deal includes keeping 160 stores and all of the retailer’s distribution centers.
Sequim’s store employs 35 part-time and full-time employees, including its salon, Nelson said.
“It’s devastating,” she said of the closure.
Nelson, who has been general manager for four years, said firm dates have not been established for liquidation and closing.
Sequim’s location will go into liquidation sometime after Christmas, she said, with the expectation to finish sometime in March.
In her experience with other retail liquidations, Nelson said there will be a progressive sale and typically sales are final when that begins.
However, she said, the store remains “business as usual” with sales, and they honor gift cards and continue to sell them.
JCPenney’s website states: “Items purchased prior to the start of the liquidation sale may be returned or exchanged throughout the entire liquidation sale at closing stores.”
Nelson said Sequim’s store has a dedicated following, as it is the only JCPenney on the North Olympic Peninsula. It’s also one of the smaller JCPenney stores in Washington at about 29,000 gross square feet; Silverdale’s JCPenney is 162,000 gross square feet and the Tacoma Mall store is 228,800 gross square feet.
Previous interviews with staff said catalogue and online orders were popular at the store.
In 2017, JCPenney closed 138 stores nationwide. Despite being a smaller store, Sequim survived that cut.
The store has won several corporate awards, including the Chairman’s Award and the Founder’s Award, considered the “highest distinction for excellence,” according to JCPenney corporate representatives.
Through her communication with corporate officials, Nelson said she hasn’t been told much other than that the store “does not fit the profile for the new company.”
She’s said she’s unsure if employees will be able to transfer to other stores or other positions in the company.
The pandemic has affected the local store, Nelson said, with the salon, for example, seeing cancellations because its older clientele are a higher risk for contracting COVID-19.
“We have an even more susceptible client base than in Snohomish or other bigger stores,” Nelson said. “Our clients are concerned about going out.”
Under state guidelines, the store and salon have been open at 25 percent capacity.
Sale of the company, founded in 1902, finished on Dec. 7 under approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas after it approved the company’s reorganization plan on Nov. 24.
Under new management, JCPenney has access to about $1.5 billion of new financing, according to a company press release.
Sequim’s JCPenney’s closure joins other nationwide franchise closures in Sequim during the pandemic, including GameStop — which closes at the end of December, after liquidation — and Ulta Beauty.
For more information about the Sequim JCPenney store, call 360-681-2833 or visit jcpenney.com.