Main Street Empire: J. C. Penney in Nebraska
journal contributionposted on 01.07.2011, 00:00 by David Delbert Kruger
The April 1914 opening of downtown Grand Island's J.C. Penney store was as significant for the company's thirty-eight-year-old founder as it was for the crowd waiting along the Third Street sidewalk. For James Cash Penney, the Grand Island opening marked not only his first store in Nebraska, but also the closest he had come to operating near his hometown of Hamilton, Missouri. Nebraska's first J.C. Penney store was also, arguably, the first of the franchise's stores in the entire Midwest, as the next closest location was over three hundred miles away in Fort Morgan, Colorado. For nearly a decade, Penney had been creating a chain of sixty stores, but until 1914 his commercial reach extended no farther east than Colorado.