On this date in 1902 James C. Penney (aka J.C. Penney) opened his first store in Kemmerer, Wyoming. Today “The Mother Store” of the 1,106 department store chain is a national historic landmark along with Penney’s small house, where he lived from 1902-1909. Today these buildings are open for tours as part of the JC Penney Museum. His middle name was Cash, which was appropriate because in the 1920s he was making millions of dollars a year, a lot of money in those days. But then the Stock Market crashed in 1929 Mr. Cash Penney lost all his personal wealth, and leaving him a little stressed so he checked himself into the Battle Creek Sanitarium.
Penney became a born-again Christian and left the daily management of his company to others. In 1940, during a visit to a store in Des Moines, he trained a young Sam Walton on how to wrap packages with a minimal amount of ribbon. Obviously that left an impact, I mean, Walmart stores are definitely known for cutting costs, especially ribbons. When Cash Penney died in 1975 at age 95, there were nearly 2,000 stores bearing his name. Not too shabby. Especially when you find out there is ANOTHER JC Penney Museum in Hamilton, Missouri, his birthplace.