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A Public Rally Planned in San Fernando to Keep the Retailer in Town PDF Print E-mail
Written by Diana Martinez | Editor   
Thursday, 28 June 2012 03:12


"Save JCPenney" signs are posted in San Fernando, like this one on the corner of Mcclay Avenue and Truman Street. JCPenney has is been in San Fernando for more than 80 years.

Banners to "Save J.C." Penney In San Fernando," have gone up throughout the city. A special city council meeting was held Tuesday, to discuss the plans to hold a rally on July 1st at the San Fernando mall outside the JCPenney store. JCPenney recently announced that they are closing their San Fernando location and have been having a closing sale. Although only two council members were present, Mayor Brenda Esqueda and Mayor Pro Tem Antonio Lopez, the rally was given a green light.

"It's a city sponsored event," said Lopez. "City administrator Al Hernandez has the authority to approve it."

Rally organizer, Julian Ruelas, who is also a main organizer to recall the council majority, said the city administrator can approve the event and can use discretionary funds up to $1,000. He said the event would not have a negative financial impact on the city and the city's fees to hold the event would be waived.

Lopez said that he has been speaking with legislators who support the community in their effort to keep the anchor retailer in town. "We have the support of Senator Alex Padilla's office and other legislators."

The rally is planned to send a message to JCP executives to publicly demonstrate how much the local community values the store. Ruelas said, in addition to speakers, the rally will portray a bit of mall history and members of classic car clubs will be cruising into the downtown San Fernando mall.

"When the word got out that JCP was closing, the classic car community was the first to respond. They were once teenagers, and they now have families and are grandparents. They are JCPenney's demographic," Ruelas said.

"We understand that JCPenney wants profits and sales, and JCPenney's.should know that if these guys can spend the kind of money it takes to have one of these classic cars, they certainly have it to shop in JCPenney's".

Comedian Gilbert Esquivel, and Sal Rodriguez from the band "War" will provide entertainment with other notable musicians and many residents are planning to speak to add their personal testimonials about the store.

"You [JCPenney] may own this store, but it's our store," Esquivel said in a heartfelt video recently placed on YouTube and Vimeo. An online petition /petitions/j-cpenney- keep-the-city-of-sanfernando- store-open is also circulating. By press time, 749 signatures have been collected and many who've signed the petition have written comments." Ruelas said additional signatures will be collected during the rally.

"We are 100 percent behind this effort," said Tom Ross of the Downtown Mall Merchants Association. "I remember sitting on those steps at San Fernando's JCPenney store when I was a boy and just two weeks ago, I bought my 4 year old son his first suit there."

" Losing JCPenney would be a major blow to this town and we are prepared to do what we can to support this effort," Ross said.

Resident Jesse Avila said he has been following the stories recently reported about the termination of the company's president and the controversy surrounding the store's marketing strategy.

"I don't know if JCPenney really knows who their customers are so it's up to us to let them know who we are and what we need. They might not know us." Avila said he supported the upcoming town rally and JCPenney's mantra to be "Fair and square." Residents have noted that San Fernando is the only store in California the company is closing.

Resident Renato Lira said his cousin who worked for the store was recently laid off and said that he was told that the store could close on July Employees working at the store told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol that they were unsure what day they would close and sale merchandise from outside stores was being brought in to liquidate.

"The store closing has a terrible impact on our families and the community." Lira said.

Last month, J.C. Penney reported a $163 million quarterly loss, while suffering from a 20 percent drop in sales. The San Fernando location has been in the city for more than 80 years and is viewed as part of the city's history. Over recent years however, customers have noted that the inventory was not equal to other store locations and noted that sales would improve if the store's merchandise improved.

San Fernando, a tight knit community, is currently facing a financial crisis and is concerned that JCPenney as the town's anchor retailer and their exit will hit the city hard taking much needed revenue with them when they pack up and could cause fewer customers to the frequent the outdoor mall. City Administrator Al Hernandez has reported that JCPenney contributes as much as $80,000. in tax revenue to the city. "That figure is significant," said councilwoman Sylvia Ballin. "That figure could represent the loss of one or even two employee positions."

Mayor Brenda Esqueda said that she had a conversation with a JCPenney executive on Tuesday "I spoke to Mr. Hansen in Government Relations and he said that residents could go to Northridge."

Esqueda had said that she was told initially that he would be visiting San Fernando and they would have an opportunity to meet with him. She said that she is now considering going to the store's headquarters in Plano Texas with a delegation from the city.

"We have been loyal to JCPenney for years, and we'd like them to show their loyalty to us," Esqueda said.

The public rally will be held in the San Fernando Mall on Sunday, July 1, 3-6 p.m.

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 05:05