J.C. Penney Opens “Experiential” Store in Texas

J.C. Penney has opened a “brand-defining” store in Hurst, Texas, (pictured) that will serve as a “lab” for the department store to test new “experiential” ideas.

The two-level store, branded “Penney’s,” includes a number of attractions that aren’t typically found in department stores, never mind J.C. Penney. There’s a movement studio that will offer regular classes on yoga and fitness; 11 lounges; two coffee shops; a selfie and portrait studio; a children’s area, which will include places to play, watch movies, and do arts and crafts; a concierge stationed in front of the store; styling rooms staffed with “style experts”; an InStyle salon and spa; and a barber shop that serves up haircuts, shaves, and shoe shines.

There’s also plans for lots of events, including in-store appearances from Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and players and a live podcast taping.

All in all, these attractions will take up about 13% of the store.

Naturally, the retailer will still sell the clothes and accessories that are Penney’s bread and butter—though its merchandise areas aim for a cleaner, less-cluttered look, organized into distinct sections: All Day features casual work and weekend wear; On Point has “more refined and polished” items; Move houses workout gear; Chill has lounge and sleepwear; and Shine is for “items for special occasions.”

There’s also All You, featuring fashion jewelry and accessories, a Sephora boutique, and place to pick up and return items purchased online. A new partnership with Pinterest lets shoppers choose their home decor through curated Pinterest boards.

The Dallas Morning News found one change “small but effective”: Its dressing rooms feature hooks that say “yes,” “no,” and “maybe.”

Penney's accessories
The Penney’s accessories section

The new store, located just outside of Dallas, is the result of a year of research on Penney’s core customer, said chief executive officer Jill Soltau in a statement.

Even if the new format is successful—and shoppers questioned by The Wall Street Journal seemed impressed by it—analysts said that it’s unlikely Penney currently has the resources to remodel all of its 800 stores in this fashion. However, Soltau said  the store will serve as a “a lab to inform decisions to return J.C. Penney to sustainable, profitable growth,”

Some changes are similar to those proposed by former Penney CEO Ron Johnson during his ill-fated stewardship of the company. Johnson also envisioned a central meeting space filled with yoga classes and places for haircuts.

(Images courtesy of J.C. Penney)

Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine

JCK News Director