A Gateway to Brooklyn

JCPenney projects strength and relevance with its expanded New York footprint
Posted January 5, 2015

In August, JCPenney opened its first store in Brooklyn. The single-level, 124,000-square-foot emporium in the Gateway Center, located in the East New York section of the borough, is a timely complement to the retailer’s well-established New York footprint, adding to its roster of existing stores in Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx. Joining the other mall anchors, Target, Best Buy and Home Depot in the sprawling urban mall, the beleaguered company makes a clear statement that it’s turning the corner.

The store is both contemporary and relevant, as sleek modular chandeliers adorn the vestibule area of an eco-friendly space that is said to consume 45 percent less energy than a typical JCPenney store. A crisp, clean white palette defines the environment with brightly lit walls and a pleasing simplicity of fixturing. T-stands are the primary fixtures of choice in the apparel areas, grouped in twos and threes to maximize visibility and flexibility. Polished concrete aisles, a clear nod to the future, lead the way through the merchandising zones, providing a cohesive traffic pattern. Three mannequins on each side of the entry aisle stand as sentries and an additional welcoming gesture.

A full-service Sephora installation is the first major attraction, driving traffic forward. The beauty giant is already positioned in more than 500 JCPenney stores with 15 more on the way. A strong registration of the cosmetic leader’s black and white branded imagery entices both new and existing customers. Richard Leddbetter, vp of visual merchandising, refers to Sephora as, “a beacon of light, grabbing the attention of all who enter the store.”

An underlying feature of the environment is the interweaving of the company’s proprietary red color throughout - you always know you’re in JCPenney’s; and the locale-specific flavor of the store, with landmark images of the famed borough including an oversize photograph of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge

A string of visual moments occur as branded presentations identify private labels such as Worthington in better sportswear, and the Arizona Jeans Company in men’s. Carpeted focal points strategically positioned include mannequin groupings and table presentations. A newly designed Modern Bride fine jewelry department is the crown jewel of the store, providing a sparkling shopping experience for diamonds and precious gems, with contemporary gray tiles, luxurious surface treatments and bright LED in-case lighting. The fine jewelry department also features floorstanding watch cases that are more approachable without being intimidating. Although the cases are locked, this important classification is readily accessible as customers have the ability to wander around the floorstanding presentations.

Exclusive to JCPenney, the Liz Claiborne department is a dynamic draw. An oversized set of yellow doors calls out the brand while welcoming customers into the area.

The men’s world features the retailer’s Xersion brand. The environment, reminiscent of a sports venue, provides a nod to team sports with walls covered with fun images of bleacher seats and groupings of athletic mannequins sculpted for JCP, highlighting activewear and athletic gear. Leddbetter says, “The men’s department brings back traditional visual merchandising theater, romanced with upholstered feature tables and crisply rigged mannequin presentations.” The Arizona Jeans Company incorporates wood nested tables with metal superstructures to elevate merchandise, while colorized product groupings on front and forward tables tell a lifestyle story. In the men’s dress shirt area, a cleverly designed presentation board displays each shirt and flips up to reveal stock behind. Leddbetter calls it, “No muss no fuss merchandising.”

The home store caters to local urban apartment dwellers, featuring residential presentations of bedding, bath and kitchen. Stainless steel restaurant supply tables that are sturdy, mobile and attractive, are used as merchandisers in the kitchen area, while overhead chandeliers made with drinking mugs add a clever decorative touch.

JCPenney’s latest foray in The Gateway Center offers Brooklynites a broad assortment of apparel and home furnishings. Of equal importance is the clear statement, that the company founded by James Cash Penney in Kemmerer, Wyo., in 1902, is healthy, vibrant and relevant to the shoppers of today.


JCPenney Company, Plano, Texas

Design and Architecture
JCPenney, Plano, Texas: Richard Ledbetter, vp visual merchandising; Jane Davis, vp architecture, planning & store design; Steve VanLandingham, director store design; Suzanne Fleenor, visual display sr. manager; Linda Baggett, visual display specialist; Angela Francisco, sr. manager store design; Tammy Keller, sr. manager store planning; Susan Cimprich, sr. manager store planning; Dennis Pellissero, sr. manager store planning

General Contractor
JCPenney, Plano, Texas
Rob Beaird, construction services manager
Kevin Dolan, construction services operations

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Photography: Matt Mrozek, Plano, Texas