Department store's stay in Brown County will end June 18
t's never good for a town to lose a business, especially when that business is a Fortune 500 company that has been a staple in the community for decades. Unfortunately that is exactly what's happening in Brown County, as major retailer JCPenney will be closing its doors for good on June 18.
On Friday, JCPenney announced the Heartland Mall store was one of nine closing in Texas, and one of 138 closing over 41 states nationwide.
In late February, JCPenney publicly announced it would be closing up to 140 stores over the course of the next few months, but didn't specifically name any stores that would be closed. At the time, the company said it wasn’t fully aware of how many jobs would be lost due to the closings, but added it would offer a pension or an early retirement plan to approximately 6,000 of the full time employees.
Earlier this week, the store's employees at the Early location were informed of the decision. This came after JCPenney corporate employees visited the store just days before.
The closing of the Early store will affect around 30 employees, all of which will lose their jobs.
According to Heartland Mall manager Mark McAfee, the mall had a general idea that the Early location would be affected, but he, much like the general public, was only officially made aware of the closing on Friday.
"We had a little knowledge of the situation, but nothing was set in stone as far as what stores would be closing," said McAfee. "Based on what I was hearing as far as the criteria for closing, I figured the Early store may be one of those to close, but like I said nothing was made official. I wasn't told it was actually official until Friday morning though. I had no idea when or where or anything, so they just sort of sprung the official announcement on us out of nowhere."
While he realizes that the loss of the major retail outlet is a big deal, McAfee says that Heartland Mall is actively working with other companies to replace JCPenney.
"Stuff like this happens, especially in this type of business," McAfee said. "We work very closely with the community and the city of Early and will continue to do so in order to try and bring in more stores like the one we are losing. In fact, we've already been in discussions with a few different companies out there and we have some that are interested and that are eyeing that particular piece of property. There are a lot of things we can do to help revitalize the mall to make it attractive to other businesses and we plan to do those things."
The other JCPenney closures in Texas include Stephenville, Nacogdoches, El Paso, Borger, Seguin, McAllen, Marshall and Athens.
Major sales to liquidate all items currently in stock will take place, with the first round of sales beginning April 17.
JCPenney is expected to lose around $225 million in earnings due to the closing of stores across the nation. However, the long running retailer said that it will save up to $200 million per year due to scaling back its payroll.