Withering Glance: Wanting to like J.C. Penney

  • Article by: RICK NELSON and CLAUDE PECK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 9, 2012 - 6:19 PM

Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

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J.C. Penney

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CP: I have changed the name of a 110-year-old American retailer to Yay C. Penney.

RN: Ever since two Target guys -- Ron Johnson and Michael Francis -- stepped into the executive suite at Jacques Penney, the Cream of Wheat of department stores has been spicing things up. How about that Father's Day ad, featuring two real-life gay dads with their kids? Adorable.

CP: The One Million Moms didn't think so. The group quickly denounced the ad for promoting sin. Why do I suspect that group's name vastly overstates its membership? Perhaps they should have incorporated as One Thousand Extreme Religious Zealots With Web Access.

RN: They're the same august organization that protested the rumored Kardashian Barbie. They have seen an actual Barbie doll, right?

CP: Enough with the Moms. I have heard from approximately One Million Gays who say their next pair of Levi's is coming from "America's Favorite Store."

RN: Sprinting to the nearest JCP, debit card at the ready, was certainly my first instinct. And here we are. You know what? This Rosedale Penney's is more appealing than its grim exterior might otherwise suggest.

CP: Look at you go. Shall I get you a shopping cart?

RN: By all means, because would you look at these fabulous bath towels? They're seven bucks a pop. The lamp department contains a half-dozen not-bad specimens. This picture frame? Sold. And I may have to buy that Cuisinart coffeemaker.

CP: The store now issues catalogs with some pages that look like they were torn directly from the Target playbook. Cleaner graphics are one thing, but what about reducing the overstuffed, outdated look of this store? These fixtures should have been jettisoned about 1996. They don't make me desire, but then neither do the shirts and satiny ties in matching pumpkin.

RN: If I could send a single message to Misters Johnson and Francis, it would be to ix-nay that godawful Stafford in-store brand name, and then convince them to follow the first commandment in underwear merchandising, otherwise known as plastering a ridiculously hot model on the packaging.

CP: I want to patronize the Store That Stood by Spokesmodel Ellen DeGeneres, but truly, the only thing I would ever buy here would be some Levi's.

RN: I don't know, I can totally see one -- or better yet, two -- of those overstuffed recliners in your living room.

CP: The nice saleswoman who has worked here for 30 years believes the new no-coupon approach is death to sharp-eyed women bargain hunters who are the store's core.

RN: Meanwhile, pulling in a more youthful clientele might prove tough. I'm beginning to wonder if we're the only shoppers who didn't spend several minutes this morning penciling in our eyebrows.

CP: Speak for yourself.

Email: witheringglance@startribune.com and Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib

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