The JCPenney store in Oak Ridge has re-opened. The store is in Main Street Oak Ridge in the center of the city.
The store is open limited hours: from 12-7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday.
There are dedicated hours for at-risk customers: 11 a.m.-12 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday. At-risk customers include the elderly, pregnant women, and people with underlying health issues.
It hadn’t been clear if the Oak Ridge store, which had been temporarily closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, would re-open after JCPenney filed for bankruptcy protection on Friday, May 15.
But it is now open. Customers can enter through the doors on the Cinemark Tinseltown side of the store.
JCPenney is asking customers to maintain a six-foot distance between themselves and other customers. Customers are also asked to evaluate their own health, considering whether they have had a fever, been in contact in the last two weeks with anyone who has had COVID-19, or have symptoms that are unusual for the customer, including a cough, shortness of breath, or chills and body aches.
The JCPenney store in West Town Mall in Knoxville has also re-opened, but stores in Turkey Creek in Farragut and Foothills Mall in Maryville have not.
JCPenney closed its stores and offices more than two months ago, on March 18, because of COVID-19. It temporarily furloughed most hourly store employees starting April 2. Saddled with debt and already struggling, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in May, after closing its stores.
But the company, one of America’s most well-known retailers, plans to continue operating during the bankruptcy process, and it has been gradually re-opening stores, following guidance from state and local officials.
Still, some locations are expected to close. There have been reports that JCPenney plans to close about 29 percent of its 846 stores—about 192 stores by February and another 50 in 2022. That’s 242 stores total that will close. That will leave the company with just over 600 stores. Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the United States, JCPenney had announced plans to close six of its stores in April, according to CNN.
In a press release this month, JCPenney said it will close stores in phases during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But details about the specific stores and their closing dates haven’t been announced.
Meanwhile, the company has launched a new home brand, USA Today reported Wednesday. The new Linden Street bedding brand is available online.
In its press release earlier this month, JCPenney said it had made significant progress on a transformation plan before COVID-19.
But the new disease, which can be deadly, has created “unprecedented challenges” and resulted in a “profoundly different new reality” for the retail industry in the United States, said Jill Soltau, JCPenney chief executive officer.
As of mid-May, the company was the fourth national retailer, and the largest, to file for bankruptcy protection this month since the COVID-19 pandemic forced stores to temporarily close, according to CNN and CBS News. The other three retailers were J.Crew, Neiman Marcus, and Stage Stores.
The re-opening of the JCPenney store in Oak Ridge is presumably good news for the second phase of Main Street Oak Ridge, the redevelopment of the former Oak Ridge Mall. Construction of four new retail stores between JCPenney and PetSmart, part of the second phase of Main Street, has been suspended as retailers suffer through the COVID-19 pandemic. But developers hope to get that project back on track, including through the construction of a three-story self-storage facility on Rutgers Avenue in the area behind PetSmart.
JCPenney is one of the two department stores at Main Street Oak Ridge that were also tenants at the former Oak Ridge Mall. Belk is the other.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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