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Mantecas JC Penney impresses shoppers
Orchard Valley store now officially open
PENNYS6-3-7-09
Store manager Steve Hernandez, left, presents a check for the Disabled Veterans of San Joaquin County to Bennie Gatto. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Nicole Stanley wasn’t planning on spending her birthday at the grand opening of JC Penney in the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley / Lifestyle Outlets at Manteca.

But the Manteca resident and her 2-year-old daughter, Keira, just happened to be among those attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday morning.

“I was told I could get a free gift,” said Stanley, who was urged to come out to Manteca’s newest retail store by her friend, Carey Blevins.

Blevins, who also brought her daughter Dillan, 3, to the event, was impressed with the 104,000-square-foot store, with 86,000 of this space accounting for the sales floor, according to store manager Steve Hernandez.

“It’s very nice looking store,” Blevins said.

Actually, the new JC Penney store had been in operation since last weekend  with a soft opening, giving folks in the community a chance to either browse or shop.
Vince Hernandez, a Manteca council member, noted that his 15-year-old daughter braved the weather on that first day to check out the makeup counter.

The makeup counter also brought Stanley and Blevins to the store. That and clothes for their children.

Gift bags were given to the first 500 guests during the official grand opening.  In attendance were JC Penney district manager Robert Romero along with store managers from Sacramento to Modesto.

Special guests included San Joaquin County Board of Supervisor Steve Bestolarides, City of Manteca officials, Mayor Willie Weatherford, and council members Hernandez, John Harris, Steve DeBrum, and Debby Moorhead.

“We’ve been looking forward to this project for a long time,” Weatherford said. “We’ve encouraged retailers to come to our community.”

For their part, J.C. Penney officials made handsome donations to a pair of local agencies, the Disabled Veterans of San Joaquin County and the YMCA of San Joaquin County (afterschool programs). Lathrop’s Benny Gatto and Jon Thomas, YMCA senior program director, respectively, accepted the checks on behalf of their non-profit organizations from Steve Hernandez.

Hernandez has been with JC Penney for 26 years, starting off as a stock clerk at the Stockton store. Since then, he’s worked at nine other stores and has been involved in two grand openings.

“Value, integrity, quality goods, and customer service – that’s been the foundation of business,” he said.

The new store is considered a mid-size “box” with 138 employees.

“Like the bigger stores, we have everything here but furniture,” Hernandez said.

Furniture can still be purchased at the Manteca store via catalog sales.

For more information on the store, log on to the official website, www.jcp.com.