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JC Penney pulls in crowds
Workers put final touches on the JC Penney sign at the new Manteca store. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin
It is still five days until the official grand opening and JC Penney is already packing in crowds at its new 104,000-square-foot Manteca store that’s part of The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley.
It’s an awesome store that greeted folks who have been dropping by since the 107-year-old retailer’s soft opening three days ago. The grand opening is set for Friday at 8:45 a.m. when JC Penney opens nine stores officially nationwide.
It was Sunday afternoon and I was being a bachelor of sorts, since my bride of many years was over the hill visiting our daughter’s family and seeing our grandchildren.  She and our granddaughter have a special thing about going to ice shows together.
Everything looked so very perfect for a department store – it has a unique elegance – as you walk into the front door of JC Penney. Staffers standing by the entrance had the warmest smiles on their faces as they greeted the customers.
As I sauntered through the aisles it was clear that customers could see everything from that tiled walkway vantage point.  In the men’s department, especially, the belts that usually seem to be hidden were mounted high enough on a back wall that they are easily seen.
The slacks, the suits, shirts and even the underwear were placed in such a presentation that caught my attention, and I immediately recognized things I needed to buy in the near future.
In every department a clerk would quietly come forward with that same pleasant smile - and greeting - that I encountered at the front door asking if he or she could be of any help to me.  Little did they know how I love to get people into conversations.
At the intersection of another aisle I ran into Bennie Gatto of Lathrop Planning Commission fame.  Bennie likes to chat as much as I do – and chat we did.  His wife went on shopping knowing the odds were against her.
My big thing was finding a men’s department that was so perfectly laid out with everything and anything I might ever want.  Now I know exactly where everything is located, and where I’m going to be shopping in the future.
I had the pleasure of meeting the store manager.  It’s always a joy to meet a businessman who comes across as a gentleman – and he did just that.  
Steve Hernandez told me that most of the store’s 130 employees come from Manteca surroundings.  Many had been staff members at the Manteca Mervyn’s store where some 80 lost their jobs when that store closed recently.
Hernandez has somehow transferred his outgoing personality to his staff members who come across as one big family of sales people – accomplishing an unusual and outstanding fete in today’s world.
Friday is usually my scheduled day off, but I will be at the grand opening of this store.  I want to see more of this staff.  I really want to know what’s behind them, and what it is that makes them tick.
 JC Penney’s Manteca store is now open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Orchard Valley store showcases JC Penney’s two brand concepts: a Sephora beauty boutique and the American Living collection of fashions for men, women, children and home.
The full-service Sephora boutique covers approximately 1,500 square feet and boasts the best that Sephora has to offer, including some of the most desired brands in makeup, skincare, fragrance, and accessory products. Launched exclusively at JC Penney in February 2008, American Living is a new tradition in American style for family and home. Developed for the JC Penney customer by Polo Ralph Lauren’s Global Brand Concepts, the classic traditional lifestyle brand captures the American spirit with its timeless style and impeccable quality all at JC Penney’s signature smart price.  
Throughout the store, wide aisles and efficient customer service centers make shopping easy and convenient. The layout helps shoppers easily locate major brands, including The Original Arizona Jean Company, Chris Madden, nicole by Nicole Miller, Liz & Co., Ambrielle, a.n.a, SouthPole, Worthington, Stafford, Bisou-Bisou, Carter’s and Nike.