100 years and counting
It's time to start celebrating.
J.C.Penney, 78 E. Main, is celebrating 100 years of business in Carbon County with a special celebration at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 1. The event will include a ribbon cutting, a key to the city presentation, drawings for gift cards, refreshments and the biggest sales of the season, according to Leslie Childs, manager of J.C. Penney.
The J.C.Penney location in Price was the twelfth store opened by the company on May 1, 1910 and now is the second oldest store still in operation.
The first J.C.Penney opened in 1902 in Kemmerer, Wyo., and is the oldest store in the chain still in operation. The chain has grown steadily since then with 1,100 stores in operation around the country, Childs said.
Since its inception, J.C.Penney has been a store that focuses on its customers and their needs, Childs said.
"What matters to the customers, matters to us," Childs said. "We're very customer focused and customer service is very important to us. For our small store here, we offer a lot."
The original location of the first store was in the building now occupied by Hoffman's Hard Hat.
Not much has changed since the newer building opened in 1946. Save for a few changes here and there, it's still the same even for an employee who last worked for the company in 1988. Ruth Ardohain, 85, spent 32 years working as an employee at the Price store.
"If anything changes in the store now I can see it right away," Ardohain said.
When she first began working at the store, Ardohain remembered the dress code the employees had to follow and how J.C.Penney was the place to shop among the people in town. Now when she visits J.C.Penney's, things are much different.
"Back when I first started we had to wear dresses and heels but now things are a lot more casual," Ardohain said. "Penney's was the place for people to go and get things in town."
Peggy Young, 63, is another former longtime employee who worked 27 years before retiring last year. During her time as an employee, she can remember the daily interactions with customers coming into the store and how important it was to help them. It was those interactions with customers that made the job very enjoyable, Young said.
"The customers who came in here became like family to me," Young said. "If you go out of your way to help people, they will remember you."
Childs, in her third year as manager, said there is a big difference between working in a small town compared to a big city where the interactions with customers can be very different.
"You definitely get to know your customers very well," Childs said. "You don't get that in a bigger city."
Childs is the first female manager the Price store has had since it first opened in 1910. When looking back at the history the store has within the community and the relationships she has with both customers and employees, Childs can't imagine working anywhere other than Price.
"It's really exciting for me," said Childs, a lifelong Price resident. "A lot of history is involved with this store in the community. We all know each other and our families as well."
A celebration will take place on Saturday, beginning with a ribbon cutting at 8 a.m. Many J.C. Penney officials will be attending the event along with Representative Jim Matheson who will be at the store at 2:30 p.m. that day.
With J.C.Penney in Price about to turn 100, Childs knows that the customers in Carbon County and the surrounding area is the reason why the store is still running strong.
"We would not be here if it wasn't for the support from the local community," Childs said.
As for the 100 year anniversary of J.C.Penney in Price, Childs had only one thing left to say.
"Here's to 100 more years," she laughed.