Changing Times, Changing Spaces: The South Dakota Stores of J. C. Penney
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2010, 00:00 by David Delbert Kruger
When the first J.C. Penney store in South Dakota held its grand opening on 1 April 1916, the celebration took place not in the bustling business district of one of the state's larger cities like Sioux Falls or Aberdeen, but on Main Street in the tiny farming community of Redfield. At the time of the grand opening, Redfield was a fraction of the size of Sioux Falls, with a population of just under three thousand. The small, personable size and agrarian environment of the Spink County seat were, however, consistent with the rural locations the company founder, James Cash Penney, had coveted as he began to expand his chain of stores from Wyoming eastward. As Penney himself reflected, "For me, innately, cities were places to keep away from. Small towns were where I was at home. I knew how to get close to the lives of small town people, learning their needs and preferences and serving them accordingly."