My J C PENNEY Story, the man not the store!
One of my first attempts to develop my business was to have a friend and future partner, called Gene Shaffer, to introduce me to his contact at J.C. Penney Inc. It was the lamp and gift Department buyer, a young man called Harvey Markovitz, who he and I became good friends afterwards. It was while I was developing a new product called Ceralon in that Department. Because of the success their, I was asked to set up this same department in their new stores, as they opened, and I was asked to travel to each new Penney store opening. with Mr. J. C. Penney and usually a different young beautiful women who they would call “Miss Penney” for the opening.
I traveled with J.C. Penney and a different Miss Penney for 3 years as they were opening new J. C. Penney stores all over the United States. He was a gentle old man who loved to laugh and look at what he had ACCOMPLISHED. He was at each opening as a way of introducing each new store to the location. We would be invited to appear on each local TV show to have Mr Penney say a few words by inviting the audience to come to the opening and that he would love to greet everyone who would come. As old as he was, he stayed there the whole day shaking hands with all the new customers. Miss Penney was there as a pretty young women who bring youth to the opening. It was my job to introduce to the people in the gift department how to make displays of the different products we offered, so while in the TV studio, I demonstrated to the audience the affect our new ideas could be used in there homes.
At the end of each session, I was always approached by different local women, some who worked at Penney’s, but mostly customers who wanted to meet me later. Never once did I ever even consider it, not to mention how often the “Miss Penney” asking me to go for a drink after Mr Penney would retire to the local hotel where we three stayed and usually two nights. At the time, I had strong Catholic values that always guided me in the right direction, not that I would be any different today? There is another similar story coming, only about The F W Woolworth new store openings and making flower arrangement on TV and how I was copied by none other than “Merrill Live”!