J.C. Penney in Astoria, one of the last major commercial retail outlets downtown, is among the 138 stores the company plans to close in the coming months.
The company announced earlier this year it would close 130 to 140 stores amid struggling competition with online and niche retailers, similar issues faced by other major retailers such as Sears and Macy’s. The closures will bring the chain down to about 900 locations. About 5,000 employees will be displaced.
Representatives at the Astoria location deferred to the company’s corporate media relations department, which could not immediately be reached for comment. Most locations are expected to start liquidation sales in April and close in June.
Astoria’s location, the 109th opened by the retail chain, celebrated 100 years of business in April. According to a price board in English and Finnish, the store originally opened in the Spexarth Building.
In 1924, the store moved to its current location on Commercial Street, built specifically for the retailer after a large fire two years prior destroyed much of downtown. The three-story location, between Paramount Drug Co. and Allstate Insurance, includes a tiled entrance inscribed with the store name, and was one of 13 locations made to look alike, according to operations supervisor Chris Hoffman.