In my next life, I want to be CEO. Of the J.C. Penney Co.
Ron Johnson — moment of silence for the ousted chief exec, please — had his chance, and I can’t help feeling sorry for the guy, especially now that he knows his replacement is his run-out-on-a-rail predecessor. That has to hurt.
Too many questions are no doubt coming out of HQ in Plano, Texas, now. Among them, I’m guessing: If the highly credentialed Mr. Johnson was able to reinvent Apple retail, well, why not JCPenney (the brand and the store, minus those pesky periods)?
Dare I say it? Without you stringing me up for sexism? I’ll be brazen …
Because Ron Johnson is a man. And therefore probably has a lot to learn about shopping.
For starters, he probably does not own two dozen purses. And who on earth would? Well, defend me here, women, because this isn’t our fault. We keep buying more bags because one after another ultimately fails to meet the hauling needs foisted upon us. Wallets and checkbooks are givens, but we also must find room for cosmetics and toiletries and far too many extras. Think kiddie snack cups — or even spousal equivalents. (I still have a friend with Cheez-Its in her purse right now to keep a cranky husband at bay in case they’re out and busy and sudden hunger turns productivity into misery on a dime.) And don’t even get me started on coupons and the in-vessel vessels needed to contain them all. If you’re a man and have maybe just a BOGO or two for a steakhouse on your person right now, please pity the more heavily burdened women all around you.
The coffee you’re drinking and the pot it issued from? Your favorite towel? The doormat on which you wiped your feet? We probably got at least one of those 20 percent off at Bed, Bath & Beyond, simply because we’ll devote so much precious bag space to those obnoxiously outsized cardboard coupons you just don’t enter the store without.
And why? Because that’s how the world works. Savvy shoppers don’t pay full price, even if they are smart enough to realize the mark-ups to begin with. Still, as for Mr. Johnson, you have to admire the gumption of a boss whose first big gamble was a coupon-free JCP society. Sure, many price tags were brought back to earth when the coupons died. But just as many were not, and, on top of that, he took the fun out of the game.
Who thrills to a shopping hunt that doesn’t include at least one rock-star purchase made with a 30 percent coupon on an item already marked down 50? That’s why Kohl’s is so much fun. “Score” the 30 on your peel-back and use it on clearance items, and it’s hard not to puff up a bit. (I enjoy an umbrella drink under my $15 9-foot market umbrella all the more for this very reason.) And as for Bed, Bath & Beyond: How quickly it learned its lesson when it suddenly decided its coupons would expire. The horror — and the backlash.
Listen up, new-old J.C. Penney CEO, blessed with a second chance. Reinvention is cool, as cool as that “younger” demographic that led you up this garden path in the first place. But forsake not your old friends. Lucky for you we’re a forgiving lot, cheering for you to make it.
I, for one, need you alive and well when I finally buy the white plantation shutters I’ve coveted for so long now. I’ll pay the best price around (or so I’m told) and have a coupon, too. Give me no guff, and you’ll have me for life.