Celebration of Fools
An Inside Look at the Rise and Fall of JCPenneyeBook - 2004
It is the archetypal American story, set in equal measure across the Great Plains and in the great cities. It is filled with boundless love, heroic loyalty, and enough betrayal, failure, and tragedy to bring tears of compassion. This is the story of JCPenney. It is the story of a great man -- many great men and women -- who built an empire based not on what was expedient, but on what was right. And it is the story of the people who brought the once-invincible kingdom to its knees -- and to the brink of collapse. Celebration of Fools begins more than 100 years ago in Evanston, Wyoming, where one James Cash Penney -- talented and indefatigable, but secretly haunted by the prospect of failure -- is a clerk at the local Golden Rule store. The owners, impressed by this young dynamo, offer him a partnership and a management role at a new location. By 1914, having long since bought out his partners, Penney owned 36 stores. By 1925, there would be 674. For decades, even through the Great Depression, JCPenney thrived by adhering to its credo of Honor, Confidence, Service, and Cooperation. Penney's became a beacon of dependability, a paragon of customer trust, and the very model of good corporate and community citizenship. And it was everywhere, with some 1,600 stores and a mammoth catalog business. But cracks were beginning to show. Stellar relationships were giving way to shady dealings. The second "C," Cooperation, was abandoned in favor of separate (and fiercely competitive) merchandising groups. And the stated mission to "square our every policy, method, and act with what is right and just" was reduced to, at best, a remembrance of things past. Hubris was spreading through the executive suites. The young turks charged with furthering the legacy of their predecessors were instead salivating over glossy brochures for McMansions overlooking Texas golf courses. By 2000, JCPenney was gasping for breath, shareholders were seething, and the press circled like vultures. Even longtime customers were shopping elsewhere. Celebration of Fools, an all-too-true story that reads like a novel, chronicles the unprecedented rise and tragic fall of this uniquely American icon. The people who tell the story -- from author and veteran JCPenney speechwriter Bill Hare to the dozens of former executives and employees he interviewed -- are the people who know it best, because they were there. JCPenney's final chapters have yet to be written, but the old company, along with James Cash Penney's vision, is long gone. If Celebration of Fools is partly an expose, it is also very much a eulogy for a beloved and trusted friend. Book jacket.
Publisher: Saranac Lake : AMACOM, 2004
Copyright Date: ©2004
Branch Call Number: Electronic book
Characteristics: 1 online resource (304 pages)