Small-town style hits the Big Apple
The 107-year-old store opened its first New York City outpost today, just a stone's throw from that most storied of department stores, Macy's Herald Square.
From where Penney executives are sitting, now -- a time when city-slicker fashionistas might not have the funds to match their fashion taste -- is the perfect time to take Manhattan.
Can a store that has recently spent most of its big ad dollars on trumpeting basics in red, white and blue find a place in the jaded hearts of New York shoppers? Because of its reputation for a catch-all, vanilla approach to fashion, I think it has its work cut out it. And JC Penney won't impress anyone with those in-store Sephora boutiques -- the cosmetics superstore is New York's Starbucks of makeup, with 12 locations on the island.JC Penney does have a couple things going for it. It's starting to add more designer collabs -- Charlotte Ronson and Nicole Miller have been partnering with Penney's for a few seasons now.
The solid collections from both designers have gotten less good press than they deserved, which brings up an advantage Penney's Manhattan experiment may afford the company, even if it never generates sales success: The offerings will likely catch the attention of the myriad fashion bloggers based in New York.
Macy's, for now, is keeping mum on its new neighbor, and why not? Penneys simple storefront is unlikely to draw traffic away from its legendary flagship. But that, too, could help endear Penneys to New Yorkers -- most people who live there dread the idea of braving the tourist droves that clog Macy's aisles.
Like any other Manhattan transplant, Penneys has a tough road ahead to be a New Yorker for life. But as the saying goes, in recession times and otherwise, if they can make it there...