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JCPenney announces closure of Lawrence store, several others in Kansas


South Iowa Street is about to lose one of its major, longtime retailers: JCPenney has confirmed that its Lawrence store is among the 138 stores it will close as the retailer tries to shore up its finances.

The company released the full list this morning. The press release says most of the stores will begin the process of liquidating inventory on April 17. I suspect an actual closing date will depend on how quickly the inventory is sold.

There are five stores in Kansas that are slated to close: Lawrence, Hutchinson, Great Bend, Chanute and Winfield.

The closing obviously will mean job losses for JCPenney employees locally, although I don’t have a current estimate on how many people that store employs. Nationwide, the company estimates about 5,000 employees will be impacted by the store closings. The company said it is “in the process of identifying relocation opportunities within the company for esteemed leaders.”

Another big impact for Lawrence will be that one of south Iowa Street’s larger buildings will be vacant. As a reminder, JC Penney is located at 3311 Iowa Street, basically between Target and the Regal theaters.

Lawrence's J.C. Penney store, 3311 Iowa St., is shown in this aerial file photo from July 2014.

Lawrence's J.C. Penney store, 3311 Iowa St., is shown in this aerial file photo from July 2014.

Lawrence has been through this before when Sears closed its full-line department store at 27th and Iowa (there’s still a hometown Sears store in operation in Lawrence.) That closing, however, ended up working out fairly well for Lawrence. The Sears location has remodeled and now houses four stores — Dick’s Sporting Goods, Boot Barn, PetSmart, and Ulta Beauty —that by all appearances are doing significantly more business than Sears did in recent years. Pretty much the same thing happened several years earlier when Kmart closed its Lawrence store, which was in the location that now houses Bed Bath & Beyond, World Market, and Michaels.

We’ll have to see whether the same thing happens with the JCPenney spot, or whether the building will sit vacant for a significant period of time. In addition to the Penney’s building, the former Hastings building at 23rd and Iowa also is available, and there’s still a significant amount of space available in the old Food-4-Less building at 25th and Iowa streets.

It looks like it will be an interesting time to watch for changes along south Iowa Street.


Clinton Laing 1 year, 1 month ago

I figured Penney's in Lawrence was doomed when they stopped servicing wristwatches that they themselves had sold to me.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 1 month ago

Penny's might have survived had they stayed downtown .....

Scott Callahan 1 year, 1 month ago

This is just really sad. The place I love best is a sweet memory....

Mark Jakubauskas 1 year, 1 month ago

Pennys - as a company - was already old and stodgy decades ago. Time to pull the plug.

Bob Forer 1 year, 1 month ago

I got sick and tired of my $8.00 Walmart elastic suspenders falling apart after very little use, so I went to Penney's and bought their $14 dollar pair. They fell apart on the second day. I returned them for cash rather an exchange. Walmart sells cheap junk. Penneys sells higher priced junk.

Alex Keiffer 1 year, 1 month ago

Well, with the current JCPenney site soon to be available, maybe some of the retailers which considered the proposed K-Ten Crossing may find this a good alternative location. Academy Sports & Outdoors, Old Navy, and Books-a-Million would especially be a good fit here. Just a thought...

Furthermore, in regards to the former Hastings space, maybe this could be remodeled and redeveloped into an indoor roller skating rink. Sure, this isn't retail by a long shot, but as far as recreation goes, you really could use something like this in Lawrence.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 1 month ago

Plenty of vacant retail space on the "hot" South Iowa corridor is available for redevelopment. No need to build a future vacant retail strip mall out in the country.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 1 month ago

Bringing more of what Lawrence already has = fruitless venture? No imagination.

Lawrence,kansas is in reality a small retail market surrounded by many many choices with larger selections not that far away.

George Dugger 1 year, 1 month ago

I suggest a chicken restaurant mall for the Penney's bldg.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 1 month ago

One way to help control sprawl in this city would be to require that all new retail development include residential square footage. it works downtown and it will work other places in the city.

This requirement would help create density, reduce run-off, utilize empty parking stalls, control sprawl, improve transit and traffic flow, improve walkability and help ensure that these buildings had a more durable future.

Drive up 6th from Mass to Wakarusa and imagine if this rule had been in place before. It's easy to visualize how much more vibrant our city would be with more residential square footage packed into the city core by turning these small strip centers and stand-alones into two and three-story multi-use buildings.

Michael Dennis 1 year, 1 month ago

Over extrapolating from a small sample much, Bob?

Michael Dennis 1 year, 1 month ago

My Mom works at a JCP in New Hampshire. I sure hope that store never sold a pair of suspenders that couldn't hold its owner in. She really counts on that job.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 1 month ago

I have never shopped at Pennys.....the closest I have ever gotten was the parking lot when I was training for bus driver.

First it was K-mart. Then Sears.... then Radio Shack (the sign in the window sent me to the Topeka store). Now Pennys. Others are likely planning to move, just look at the empty store fronts on 23rd street.

Yeah the internet has a lot to do with it. And customers too lazy to go shop to make sure the items they bought are correct and fit well. It is a sign of the times. The drive-like-fool, payday loan crowd who voted for Trump is having a very real effect on our shrinking culture. And it is not going to get any better.

Brandon Devlin 1 year, 1 month ago

Leave it to Fred to bring Trump into a discussion about. . .JC Penneys.

David Holroyd 1 year, 1 month ago

I do believe I forewarned of the store in Lawrence closing. Now the next step for the Journal World is to find out how the 138 store closings affect the Penney Distribution Center in Johnson county.

The next step will be some grand scheme from the Chamber of Commerce, the city of Lawrence, and the county to develop a money funded scheme from the taxpayers for the JC Penny building.. Does the Journal World want to comment about ownership of the property.

But then again, it would make a mighty fine , dandy storage unit facility especially with the trailer park to the west. Folks need storage.

Mr. Fritzel has screwed up the entrance on McDonald road with storage. Screwed over the hotel operator , screwed the entrance into Lawrence to a hotel circle that includes the Holidome and the hotels at 6th and Iowa. Have to say..this Scott McCullough is no genius in working with developers to enhance Lawrence.

Penney's is an outdated model for retail. It is our parents store and those who are in their 70s, their store growing up.

Plus, Lawrence has NO population to support the size of the builidngs that the mass retailers want.

But Thank You John Stavros for having the guts to build downtown for JC Penney.

Why doesn't the Journa World write a story about John Stavros. Did he have to do backdoor deals with commissioners to funnel money for homeless and affordable housing? Did he have to kiss the behinds of the then historic persons. I doubt that Elin Stene would have fought Mr. Stavros.

Lawrence isn't going to get much of anything for a while.

Tim Foley 1 year, 1 month ago

What a good looking police station...

Richard Heckler 1 year, 1 month ago

Kinda like a bail out .....

I would spend money on a Mental Health Care facility first .....

Penny's is a victim of economic displacement.....

David Holroyd 1 year, 1 month ago

And Mr. Foley may not be too far off in his prediction. Will the Journal World reveal who owns the property?

And if the police station went there, the city commission would endorse millions of dollars for spending to "fancy it up".

Face it, Lawrence is losing and the leadership is behind the loss on every item.

Michael Kort 1 year, 1 month ago

Pennys is a casualty of online retailers, Walmart, Target, etc..

They are a casualty of their times and it has nothing to do with our local government .

This won't be the end all of retail stores that will either downsize or simply go out of business and that is not the fault of the Federal Government or anyone else .

The corner grocery is gone, put out of business by chain grocery stores .

This is capitalism, the clash of business models that is bound to destroy some retailers, here or there, on a regular basis .

Paul Silkiner 1 year, 1 month ago

If Lawrence was not always 30 years behind the curve, it would be a place people move to instead of having lived in once. Progressive does not mean ahead of it's time, sometimes it means....insanity. Which is short for repeating the same behavior over and over each time expecting different results. We need a blend of liberal social and conservative monetary thinking all working together!

Bill Turner 1 year, 1 month ago

Good riddance, that place was a s#!thole. Last time I went in there a few years ago for some socks there were empty racks with merchandise strewn about the floor everywhere. The whole dimly lit store looked like a storage bin for unwanted items. I knew then that I was never going to set foot in that place again and that its closure was just a matter of time. Also, I love Tim Foley's thought: what a nice looking police station indeed.

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