J.C.Penney will close its stores in Rutland and St. Albans in early April. The two Vermont locations are among 40 stores the Texas-based national chain plans to close.
Joey Thomas, a spokesman for J.C.Penney, called the closures a necessary business decision. “We continually evaluate our store portfolio to determine whether there’s a need to close or relocate underperforming stores. Reviews such as these are essential in meeting our long-term goals for future company growth,” he said in a statement.
Thomas said eligible associates who do not remain with the company, will receive separation benefits.
Jackie Aiello, who manages the J.C.Penney in Rutland, says approximately 30 employees will lose their jobs. While she says many are college students who work part time at other Penney’s locations, she says about a dozen of her staff are full time.
For Rutland, the news of the closure is especially troubling since Sears pulled out of the Diamond Run Mall last month, leaving only Kmart as an anchor. The loss of Sears and Penney’s will also drastically reduce the annual payment Rutland City receives from the mall owner, part of a deal set up when the shopping center was built.
In St. Albans, Lisa Marie Charlesworth, of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, was shocked to hear the local Penney’s was closing. “I think it’s very disappointing,” she said. “There’s not a huge swatch of clothing stores up this way and I know that there is a good chunk of our population that uses Penney’s frequently.”
Penney’s officals say approximately 35 associates will lose their jobs in St. Albans, which Charlesworth says will hurt. “It’s going to effect these people. They’re going to be without work and that’s going to effect the greater economic picture of St. Albans.”