James Cash Penney Biography
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James Cash Penney was born on September 16, 1875 on a small farm outside of Hamilton, Missouri . His father was a poor farmer and a Baptist minister, although he did not get paid for it. Cash’s father lived a Christian life with abiding faith in the Lord, living the Golden Rule, self-reliance, self-discipline and honor.
Cash learned his sales technique early on when his father told him he was responsible for buying his own clothes. He was only 8. So, he went to work, put all his money in pigs. He ended up working as a proprietor of a butcher shop and as a partner in a dry good store.
The store Penney would open in Kemmerer , Wyoming , on April 14, 1902 . James Cash Penney and his family lived upstairs above the store. Before the store officially opened, James went for a walk around town trying to identify the needs of the town. He marked all his good in the store with “one price” because he would not discriminate against the poor. He also disallowed the access of credit for his merchandise, which was unheard of at the time. All the proprietors in town said he would fail. They were all wrong and he was a success, as the people loved the idea of the Golden Rule Store.
Mr. Penney soon found himself part owner of two more stores within a few years. Soon after that, his other two partners dissolved their partnership and James bought up their rights making him the sole owner. He envisioned stores across the Rocky Mountains and insisted on offering customers quality merchandise at the lowest possible price.
In 1913 he changed the name of all his stores to J.C. Penney Company Inc. By 1914, James had moved operations to New York City so he could be closer to the major sources of merchandise. By the 1920s, 197 J.C. Penney stores were up and running coast to coast with total sales of $43 million.