Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dear J.C. Penney: This is your Intervention

Dear J.C. Penney,

I write to you today to remind you of your target demographic.  That'd be me.  Well, really, that would be my entire extended family--and, by extension, most of middle America.  We're all loyal "Penney's" customers.  I grew up looking forward to the late summer when my parents would drive me to the next down and pick out brand new school clothes.  I learned to shop for myself in the juniors' section, carefully selecting tops and bottoms that were sure to attract attention from all the right boys without drawing ire from my parents and teachers.  I learned about sales and the value of good clothing.  As I've grown, I've continued to shop at your stores.  However, as I've grown, I've noticed some erratic and disturbing behavior on your part.  It is time for rehab, J.C., and this is your intervention.

Ten years ago, I could easily walk into any J.C. Penney store and find high-quality, durable, and modest clothes at a reasonable price--sometimes on sale, sometimes not.  I could get Levi's and Lee jeans, Dockers, Land's End, Worthington, and other known brands reliably in my size.  The clothing would last beyond my requirements, either until I grew out of the size or got tired of the style, and I could donate it to someone else knowing they would also be wearing good clothes that would last them a long time.  Your stores are now filled with clothing that is sheer or incredibly thin, and those items wear out with just a few washes.  Even the jeans are thinner than they used to be.  I haven't seen a shirt designed for a regular woman that has anything but a cap sleeve, a 3/4-length sleeve, or low-cut front on it in years.  Worthington, the stalwart business clothing brand, doesn't include a placket to the top button on women's shirts anymore, so it is impossible for me to not show cleavage (business appropriate, I think not).  I haven't seen a proper skirt or non-formal dress in eons.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not overly modest, but I want the option of buying conservative clothing.  I don't want high fashion: I want good clothes that last.

When it comes to your store layout, I'm not sure what you've been thinking.  I don't want to walk into a J.C. Penney and have to hop from mini-shop to mini-shop just to find all of the khaki pants and compare the sizes, colors, and prices.  I want you to go back to the wall of khaki pants where I could find and compare them all at the same time, feeling the fabrics and looking at tags.  The mini-shop idea is confusing and time-consuming.  While that might make you think I'll spend more time in your stores, the reality is that I don't want to go in the stores at all now.

I know that a lot of people were turned off when you dropped the coupons and went to lower prices, but that didn't really impact whether I shopped at a "Penney's" or not.  I liked the even price numbers and no guesswork or trying to determine which coupon gave me the best deal.  I really liked that I could get a better deal every time I shopped versus shopping at a competitor for the same item.  Raising prices and offering coupons isn't going to change whether I shop at your stores.  It isn't about the money.

Please consider bringing back items of value.  Return to the old days where the average person could reliably find durable, modest clothing at a fair price.  Ditch the mini-shop model and make it easy for customers to find items.  Remember your target demographic, and don't leave me hanging.

Sometimes you have to step back to move forward.  You can do this.

Good luck,

1 comment:

Jules said...

Yep, we went in there this week, for the first time in ages. I couldn't find men's Dockers. They weren't with the other men's clothes. Sales clerk had to show us the 'area' they are kept in. Very confusing!