|Today's post highlights Washington County, MS, retail.|
After a two months' wait, the blog returns its focus to the Greenville Mall today, for our promised look at the mall's JCPenney anchor liquidation. (If you missed my earlier post covering the Greenville Mall as a whole, please click here to check it out!) Last July, we looked at the JCPenney closure in the Oxford Mall, elsewhere in Mississippi. Greenville's store joined Oxford's, as well as three others in the state, in shutting down operations by the end of July 2017. Oxford and Greenville were the only two closing stores I visited in Mississippi, although I did visit another affected JCPenney in a different state; those photos will come to the blog eventually (possibly next July, with the current pattern I've got going :P ).
We're starting off with a view of JCPenney's mall entrance. This particular photo was featured back in my original Greenville Mall post as well. In case you missed that post, here's a quick history on this store: this space originally opened with the mall as Rose's in 1972, but Rose's closed only a short while later. Then, in 1976, JCPenney took over this space, relocating from downtown Greenville. JCPenney lasted here all the way until last summer, when it closed at the end of July 2017. The space now sits vacant.
I visited the store on July 12, 2017, when the liquidation was nearing its final stages. You can see in the previous photo that sales were up to 80% off throughout the store. In the shot above, we've entered the store, and are now looking at a directory conveniently placed by the mall entrance. The top of the map represents the store's exterior entrance, while the bottom (home to women's apparel) represents the mall entrance. For the sake of this post, I'm going to consider the mall entrance to be the "front" of the store - so anytime you see me say, for instance, "front right corner," I'm referring to that from the perspective of someone who has entered the store from the mall interior.
Straight ahead from the mall interior entrance is one of only two customer service counters to be found in this store. Just beyond that, near the center of the salesfloor (where the floor tile makes a diamond shape around it), is the store's jewelry counter. Store closing signs are visible throughout the place, but thankfully didn't seem too overbearing, at least in my opinion.
Moving on to the front right corner of the store now, home to yet more of the women's department. In this view we're looking out across women's apparel, parallel to the mall entrance. The same customer service counter we just saw in the previous photo is again visible here, while out through the mall entrance windows, you can also see a Rue21 store, which itself had closed not long before my visit.
One wall in the women's department (I believe this is the right-side wall, as viewed from the mall entrance) bore this large "Store Closing Sale!" poster near the ceiling. Below it, the amount of stock remained remarkably high, considering how far along the store was in its liquidation by this point. That said, there still were about two weeks or so remaining, and I'm certain that as the discounts rose higher, more and more customers made purchases.
Inching closer to the back right corner of the store, we find a strange setup: that sign points to the children's department being located clear in a separate room! Indeed, boys' and girls' clothing seems to have been located in an auxiliary or offshoot area, beneath a lower drop ceiling than the rest of the salesfloor and mostly sealed off from the other departments aside from two lone entry/exit points. (This is the first one; we'll see the other one momentarily.)
Here's a closer look at the entrance into the area that formerly housed the children's department. Unfortunately, I was unable to explore this room any further, as it had already been emptied out and closed off by the time of my visit. The store's remaining selection of children's apparel had been consolidated into the main portion of the salesfloor, as can be seen both above and in the previous photo.
Located across from the entrance into the separately-located children's department is an area that, according to the directory seen at the top of this post, once was home to men's apparel, but had ceded its function as of the time of my visit to a fixture sale area. Several fixtures can be seen in the extreme foreground, while the rest of the shot looks back towards women's apparel and the front left corner of the store (the mall entrance side).
Here's a better view of the fixture sale area across from the former children's area. Note that this wasn't the only such fixture sale area in the store; fixtures were simply placed wherever a large empty spot could be found. Since this store dated back to 1976, I was hoping there might have been some interesting JCPenney antiques to be found, but no such luck - at least, not on this side of the store...
This view takes a look up the right-side actionway, again toward women's apparel and the mall entrance side of the building. While the store does look somewhat tired, it didn't feel nearly as dated to me as the Oxford JCPenney, and it also seemed to be kept very clean and tidy - an impressive feat for a typically-messy liquidation sale.
What little was left in the way of menswear was placed here, right beside the store's exterior entrance (that's the vestibule you see on the right of the pic, letting the natural light in). As noted earlier, I'm considering the spot I was standing in for this shot to be the back right corner of the store as viewed from the mall entrance, but if you were coming in through that exterior entrance, this would instead be the front left corner. (Am I making any sense with all this?)
Adjacent to the men's department is another entry/exit point to the offshoot children's area, seen here. If I'm not mistaken, this is located very near the store's exterior wall, facing the parking lot; in fact, I believe that is that exact wall that you see running down the left side of this photo.
The way this entry/exit point to the children's department was roped off allowed me a bit of a better view inside as compared to the one shown earlier in this post, but even then, I was still blocked from exploring any further. That said... it doesn't look like there was all that much to explore in here, anyway. Nearly all of the shelves and fixtures had been removed, leaving just the bare walls in most places, from the looks of it.
As with the mall entrance, a customer service counter sat straight ahead as customers entered through the store's exterior entrance; that's visible off to the right of this photo. To that counter's left sat some fitting rooms, which as you can see, had some updated signage. The fact that this store got some updates like that says to me that it may well have actually been doing well. After all, I don't think it was ever explicitly stated that the 138 stores JCPenney closed last summer were underperforming; rather, the statement was that the chain was trying to "shrink its footprint." A more recent (as in, last week) report from The Motley Fool suggests that the stores that closed simply fell victim to their size: "JCPenney's management has indicated that Sephora and appliances are critical for boosting sales per square foot. Many of the JCPenney stores that closed last year were targeted because they were too small to support Sephora shops and appliance departments." Unfortunate indeed...
I can't remember exactly where this wall is in relation to everything else in the store, but based on the clothing and (particularly) the stuffed animals in this shot, I'm thinking this was located in-between the two children's department entrances shown earlier in this post. (I must simply have taken this pic out of order from the rest of my circuit of the salesfloor). I thought it was interesting how the "Everything on Sale" sign had been split into thirds so as to read "Every/Thing/on Sale."
From the back left corner of the store, here's a shot looking (somewhat) across the back actionway, (somewhat) parallel to the store's exterior entrance wall facing the parking lot. Another set of fitting rooms is visible on the right of this pic, but I don't think they were seeing much use, given all of the non-clothing merchandise placed out in front of them! Indeed, this area appears to have been housing the remainder of the store's various home departments...
...while all of the salesfloor space formerly dedicated to the home departments, as seen here, has become almost exclusively home to fixtures for the fixture sale. This shot is looking down the store's left-side actionway, with the mall entrance once again off in the distance. With the exception of those stacks of toasters and Dutch ovens, this space has been set aside entirely for fixture sales.
At least I was able to have some better luck in finding a vintage fixture over on this side of the store: check out this relic! This is definitely an old... something or other. Anyone know what the heck this thing is?! :P Looks to me like its use definitely involved cash somehow, though whether it served as a cash register or as some way to make change, I have no clue. And at $150, I wasn't about to take it home to investigate further, either!
That was pretty much the only fixture worth mentioning over here; the rest were more or less the same as could be found on the other side of the store, just some random clothing racks and display tables, for the most part. Here we're looking back across the fixture sale area toward the back left corner of the store, where a few pillows can still be seen for sale on those shelves in the background. Be sure to note the large "Fixtures & Equipment For Sale" banner seen at the upper left of the shot, too.
Briefly detouring to the center of the store now, for a look at how it was holding up. The jewelry counter just barely made it in on the right side of this photo; to its left - my focus here - was the women's accessories department. Looks like there was still a respectable amount of accessories to be had here, while jewelry - from what little I can see of it in this photo, anyway - looks to have been wiped out completely, by this point.
I made sure to take a close-up shot of one of the many support poles throughout the store that were bearing these notices. They read, "This JCPenney will soon be closing... but we'll still be there for you! We look forward to serving you online anytime at JCP.com." What's especially sad about all of these JCPenney closures last summer is that, for the most part, online shopping is getting to be one of the only options for customers in the affected areas... the majority of the closures seemed to affect small, rural towns, where there are very few physical shopping options left. For instance, here in Greenville, the only major department store remaining is Belk (and even then, there have been rumors circulating of its closure, too).
Stepping out from center-store, here's a view looking toward the front left corner of the interior. As we find ourselves approaching women's apparel once again, some more merchandise makes its way into view. There's also another of those grammatically incorrect "Every/Thing/on Sale" signs present in this pic, as well as a trio of desks that may well have come from the door marked "offices" behind them.
Panning to the right, we see what remains of the store's shoe department, which was home to shoes for all customers: men, women, and "family," according to that one sign. (I guess you could buy matching shoes for everyone in the household? :P ) Then, off to the left...
...we find two openings, one leading to a restroom and the other to a mysterious upper level. The restroom was interesting to see, especially since the store directory does not list one in this spot. (Rather, the only restroom it reflects is the one located in the now-closed-off children's department.) Initially I thought that perhaps this restroom was employees-only before being opened to the public after the other restroom had its access blocked off, but then that wouldn't explain the presence of that recent-style "restroom" sign above the hallway.
Something that was for sure employees-only, however, was this staircase leading to the store's upper level, shown in close-up above. Obviously, I didn't venture any past this point, but based on those stairs alone, I have to wonder just how many cool relics could be found up there! (I also bet it was quite a pain trying to get all of the office furniture from up there down this narrow stairway to sell it all off...)
The only hanging department sign in this store (not counting the two "customer service" signs above the registers) was the one you see here, promoting the women's active department. Beneath it, the similarly-recent décor for the offices and fitting room, respectively, can be seen... and behind it, some enormous wall vents are visible. Those vents made this the most dated-looking area of the store, in my opinion.
One final interior shot now, this time looking down the left-side actionway (from the front left corner) with the former home department located off in the background. Unfortunately, this shot blurred on me as I took it, but it still accomplishes what it needed to accomplish, haha!
Making our way outside, here's a wide(ish) view of the store's exterior. All of these exterior shots were featured in my previous blog post on the Greenville Mall, but I felt it was a good idea to go ahead and include them again here for good measure. I'm not sure if JCPenney did any alterations to the façade when they took over this store in 1976, or at any point afterwards for that matter, but in any case, I think it still looks pretty nice. (Or should I say, "looked"...)
This closer-up view of the JCPenney exterior shows the sides of the logo pretty well - I bring that up because those struck me as slightly gold- or bronze-colored, especially in the previous image where you can see the sunlight reflecting off of them. Additionally, beneath the façade overhang, you can see a tiny hanging (and probably lighted, too) JCPenney sign to alert sidewalk shoppers to the store's presence... and beyond that, you can just barely make out the back entrance into the mall proper.
...And speaking of mall entrances, we're wrapping up this post with a look at the Greenville Mall's main entrance at the front of the property, flanked by a JCPenney sign to its left. Now that this store has closed, I'm sure this sign (and all other JCPenney ones in- and outside of the mall, for that matter) has (have) been removed... hopefully they didn't leave any majorly prevalent labelscars behind! As a matter of fact, I was just in Greenville last week, but it totally slipped my mind to visit this mall once again to see how this empty anchor space has been dealt with. Oh well: I guess there's always next year...
"Next year" unless, of course, the space is backfilled before that time! I honestly don't know whether or not to expect that to happen, but if it does, I - and citizens of Greenville, I'm sure - would be very happy to see that. If such news does arise, I'll be sure to keep y'all posted... and until next time, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!