The list of JCPenney stores it will close in 2017 was released late last week, and the downtown Thief River Falls JCPenney is on the list.
Earlier this month, JCPenney announced it anticipated closing up to 140 stores and it was widely rumored that the store in Thief River Falls, which is located at Third Street and Main Avenue, would be on that list.
Ever since rumors of the closing started swirling, city leaders and the Chamber of Commerce began efforts to try to save the store. The Chamber began an online petition effort Thursday, March 16.
But as rumors of the JCPenney store closing came true, so did rumors that the Tractor Supply Co. would open a store here.
Tractor Supply Company is coming to Thief River Falls. In an interview with The Times, a representative said the company may open a location in the community around the beginning of October. However, the timing could change.
The representative indicated that an address for the store wasn’t on file. Thief River Falls Radio has reported that the store will be located in the former SuperOne building.
A total of 12 to 15 employees, both part-time and full-time, are expected to be employed there. The representative noted that may change depending on the needs of the Thief River Falls area.
Tractor Supply Company supports a rural lifestyle. It sells such things as work wear, lawn and garden equipment, and pet and livestock feed.
In February, the JCPenney announced it would be implementing a plan to optimize its national retail operations as part of the company’s successful return to profitability. Under the plan, the company expects to close two distribution facilities and up to 140 stores over the next few months.
“In 2016, we achieved our $1 billion EBITDA target and delivered a net profit for the first time since 2010; however, we believe we must take aggressive action to better align our retail operations for sustainable growth,” said Marvin R. Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer of JCPenney.
“We believe closing stores will also allow us to adjust our business to effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers.”
In the news release, Ellison said they understand that closing stores will impact the lives of many hard working associates, which is why we have decided to initiate a voluntary early retirement program for about 6,000 eligible associates. It also stated, “Associates who will be impacted by the store and distribution center closures will receive separation benefits, which includes assistance identifying other employment opportunities and outplacement services such as resume writing and interview preparation.”
In its fourth quarter and full year-end report, issued Feb. 24, the company reported for the full year a $514 million improvement in net income over the prior year.
Minnesota stores, other than Thief River Falls, also slated for closing, according to CNBC, were stores in Baxter, Fairmont, Faribault, Hibbing, Hutchinson, Red Wing and Winona. Three stores are slated for closing in North Dakota – one each in Dickinson, Jamestown, and Wahpeton.
No timeline for the closing of stores has been announced; although, the statement issued in February said it would take place in the next few months.
In roughly 24 hours over 1,500 individuals had signed the online petition to keep the store in Thief River Falls.