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J.C. Penney’s revamp got some things right

Am I the only one who liked the new J.C. Penney?

I loved the new look and the new brands. Sure, I missed my JCP Cash. But even though traditional sales went away, I was relieved to find I could still score $2 cardigans on the clearance racks.

I especially loved the new everyday low pricing model. Instead of waiting for artificially high prices to be “marked down” (and selection to be picked over), I could buy clothes as soon as they hit the floor.

Most of all, I loved how you could always find someone who worked there. Before, if you had a question or needed to check out, it was a 10-minute ordeal trying to find workers. Not because they were off chatting or taking smoke breaks, but because they were under piles of merchandise, dutifully putting discount stickers on the same pairs of leggings for the 15th time that week.

In fact, the first thing I noticed when the company started switching things up early last year was that employees were suddenly everywhere – and smiling! J.C Penney employees were always great but, suddenly unshackled from incessant restickering, they were finally free to assist customers in meaningful ways.

In February, when I was shopping for an outfit for my grandmother’s funeral, this made a huge difference. I was schlepping two wailing kids and about to fall to pieces myself when an employee named Roz appeared like an angel from heaven.

Bathed in white light, she scoured the store and found everything I needed. I was ready to tattoo “JCP 4-EVER” on my arm in tribute.

But J.C. Penney, still losing money, continues to tweak. The “everyday low pricing” model is gone, which means we’re going back to those silly “sale” pricing games some consumers love so much. And workers, presumably, are going back to their tedious stickering.

Since we’re monkeying with the formula, can I make a suggestion? And this goes for all department stores. Can you please just line the cash registers up in one place like they do at the grocery store? That way instead of looking for a register and an employee, we can always find them both in one easy-to-find place.

And then can we have some separate employees dedicated to the floor? Folks who aren’t so swamped that we feel guilty asking for help?

The latest news is that J.C. Penney is going to start giving employees mobile carts that can be wheeled around to cash customers out.

Ack! Please don’t give them wheels! Registers are hard enough to find in department stores as it is. The last thing we need is the employee and the register giving us the slip.

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