San Fernando JC Penney’s store closes and locals don’t want to see the historic sign go
Bedford, TX -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/21/2012 -- San Fernando’s JC Penney’s store closed over the weekend of July 30 2012, and the battle has begun to claim ownership of its decades-old neon signage.
Severyn Aszkenazy claims ownership of the sign as he is the new owner of the building. Residents believe that JC Penney corporate headquarters tried to quietly dismantle the sign but were caught by residents who called the police. Askenazy states that he’s spent over $350,000.00 upgrading the building’s facade, and even hired a historian to help with the restoration of the sign. The sign hasn’t been lit in 40 years.
He also stated that he received cell phone pictures of men who were attempting to remove the metal letters from the back of the store. Their next target would have been the sign from the front of the store. When the police questioned the men, they said they were hired by Penney’s to remove the signage and the vintage neon sign. However, they couldn’t prove that Penney’s had hired them, and one of them actually told the police if they’d had a half hour longer that the sign would have been up for sale on Ebay.
Penney’s corporate headquarters didn’t return calls asking for comments about the closure. They’ve also given community leaders conflicting reasons for the closure. Penney’s itself is losing money, but San Fernando city administrator Al Hernandez said that the store in San Fernando was making decent sales. Some people think the closure was racially motivated, as the area in which the store is located is heavily Hispanic and Latino. Penney’s is trying to retool their image to compete with national stores.
One thing that bewilders Robert Marshall of USC’s Marshall School of Business is why Penney’s chose to abandon a community that wanted them. Not only did the community want Penney’s to stay open, they created a website to save the store, they appealed to local celebrity George Lopez (who is featured on videos on the website), they gathered over 2000 signatures on petitions, and they demonstrated in front of the store trying to keep it open.
Penney’s had been in San Fernando since 1920; they moved to the current building in 1953. Hernandez said the next step in saving the building and its sign is to seek to have it placed on the national register of historic places. This would prevent sale or destruction of the sign, even if another store comes in.
Some residents don’t care whether Penney’s reopens or not, as long as they can find the soft goods they need somewhere. Both Sears and Kmart have closed their San Fernando doors in recent years, and the nearest Penney’s store is 11 miles away (in Northridge, California).
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