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JCPenney Hires A Company to Take Down Historic Store Signs PDF Print E-mail
Written by CNS and The San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol   
Thursday, 02 August 2012 04:19

San Fernando residents thwarted a wee-hour attempt by JCPenney to remove its signage from the facade of a store it has closed down, the building's owner said.

Residents spotted the large crane and workers just before midnight on Sunday and contacted the building owner Sev Aszkenazy who called police to stop the company hired by JCPenney from tearing down the signs outside the San Fernando store that, much to the dismay of residents, it closed down on Saturday.

"We got them to take down their equipment and put the signs back,''said Aszkenazy, owner of the building at 1140 San Fernando Rd.

A news conference was called on Monday morning to distribute video of the overnight attempt to remove the signs.

"They had no city permits as reqiured and knew they were doing something wrong, that's why they attempted to do it at night when they thought people would be sleeping," said resident Julian Ruelas. "As usual, JCPenney underestimates this tight knit community," he said.

The site has been nominated for designation as a historic site to preserve the building and its old-fashioned signs. A hearing on whether to grant the designation is scheduled to be held in two weeks, and Aszkenazy said he notified JCPenney the first week in July that nothing was to be changed while that designation was pending.

By the time San Fernando Mayor Pro Tem Antonio Lopez got there, San Fernando police officers were on the scene, he said.

"One JCPenney sign was off and a man was working on the old neon sign. The foreman told me: `If you'd arrived a half hour later, this sign would have been on e-bay,''' Lopez said. "The company identification on the truck and the license plate were covered and they were given orders not to stop, just take down the signs even if there were protesters. The worker said they'd planned it for a week.''

"Once the signs are off, there's no trace JCPenney was ever here.,'' Lopez said.

He noted the retailer has been a fixture in San Fernando 85 years and at the San Fernando Road location since 1953. During the news conference, Martha Diaz Aszkenazy said she considered the manner in which the store has treated the community to be disrespectful.

"They've treated this community poorly for years by stocking it with old and unattractive merchandise, even though it was never an outlet store and now they're closing this store altogether and expecting San Fernando residents to give their dollars to JCPenney in Northridge, she said.. "They are closing one store in California which is our store here in San Fernando. How will that help them?" she asked.

Ruelas said San Fernando residents know that they need to keep their money in their own community.

At a protest in front of the store on Saturday, San Fernando residents cut up their credit cards. Carol Chapman cut up her gold JCP credit card. "I've had this credit card for 60 years and I will never shop at JCPenney ever again. I won't give them another penny." she announced as her card fell in pieces to the ground. Residents said they would continue to cut up their store credit cards unless the retailer reconsiders their decision to close the San Fernando store.

JCPenney should consider itself fortunate that at a time when people are militating to keep some retailers out of their cities, the people of San Fernando are trying to prevail on the retailer to stay put, Ruelas pointed out.

"We still want them to stay. Their brand fits us. We want to give them our money,'' said Ruelas.

JCPenney did not respond to calls to ask why they authorized removing the signs although they were notified of the upcoming hearing to consider the building and signage as historic.

The San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol spoke with the Mark Rech, the owner of the Sun Valley company that was subcontracted by Chandler Signs in Texas to remove the signs, "I have heard that it was a 'mistake,' and our work has stopped," he said. "We're not the villain in this," he said.

Local resident Stormy Haupt