Penney prepares for July opening

J. C.

June 04, 1996|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,SUN STAFF

More than a half-year after the bankrupt Woodward & Lothrop chain closed its beloved store at The Mall in Columbia, its buyer, J. C. Penney, plans to open a new outlet there next month.

"It's going to be a great store and we're very excited," said Warren D. Richards, manager of the Penney store scheduled to open July 20 -- preceded by a one-day charity sale July 18.

On the same days, six other new J. C. Penney stores across Maryland and Virginia -- all formerly Woodward & Lothrop stores -- will hold their openings.

The J. C. Penney opening is just one of the changes going on at the mall, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in August.

"Just by the luck of the draw, everything is breaking at the same time," said Cathy Lickteig, a spokeswoman for the Rouse Co., which owns the mall.

In addition to the new Penney store and existing Sears and Hecht's stores, the Rouse Co. is trying to attract three large retailers as anchors for the mall, Lickteig said. She would not comment on a timetable.

Meanwhile, Hecht's is building a third-floor level and is renovating its entire store. All renovations are scheduled to be completed by fall 1997.

J. C. Penney already has renovated its store at the mall.

"We pretty much did a face-lift on that store," said Rich Sidney, district special events manager for J. C. Penney in Springfield, Va.

The store -- the only Penney's in Howard County -- has 170,000 square feet and two floors, Richards said. It will feature furniture, custom drapery, a photo studio, a hair salon, watch repairs, an eyeglass shop and catalog service.

Eventually it will have 300 employees, Richards said.

Noting the number of "career customers" and young people in the county, Richards, the store manager, said he is thrilled by the store's location.

Woodward & Lothrop -- based in Alexandria, Va. -- went bankrupt in August and closed its store at the mall in November, along with its six other stores in the Baltimore-Washington area. Nicknamed "Woodies," Woodward & Lothrop was one of the mall's original anchors.

J. C. Penney, based in Plano, Tex., acquired all seven stores for $173 million, said Stephanie Brown, J. C. Penney spokeswoman.

Though the seven Penney stores won't officially open until July 20, some shoppers will be able to buy merchandise on July 18 during a "Charity Day" event.

United Way organizations will sell $5 tickets that will entitle buyers to 25 percent off merchandise or 5 percent off current sale prices, Sidney said.

The $5 will go directly to United Way, he said.

Pub Date: 6/04/96

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