James Cash Penney

James Cash Penney

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James Cash Penney

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James Cash Penney (September 16, 1875 – February 12, 1971) was a businessman and entrepreneur who, in 1902, founded the J.C. Penney stores.

J.C. Penney Stores

In 1898, he began working in a small chain called the Golden Rule stores, and in 1902, the owners, Guy Johnson and Thomas Callahan, offered him one-third partnership in a new store he would open. He invested $2,000 and moved to Kemmerer, Wyoming, to open a store there. He participated in opening two more stores, and when Callahan and Johnson dissolved their partnership in 1907 he purchased full interest in all three stores. While there, he also became a lumberjack, cutting down trees as a side-hobby while running the stores.

Penney hired Earl C. Sams as his first salesman in charge of running the Kemmerer store. Sams was quickly promoted to a management position and within a year he and Penney were partnering to open a new location in Eureka, Utah.

By 1912, there were 34 stores in the Rocky Mountain States. In 1913 he moved the company to the Kearns Building in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. The company was incorporated under the new name, J. C. Penney Company. In 1916, he began to expand the chain east of the Mississippi and during the 1920s, the Penney stores expanded nationwide, with 120 stores in 1920 (mostly still in the west) and 1,400 stores by 1929.

Penney continued his active involvement in managing the company and its stores. In 1940, during a visit to a store in Des Moines, Iowa, he trained a young Sam......
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