Penney, J. C.

Penney, J. C. (James Cash)

(1875–1971) retailer, philanthropist; born in Hamilton, Mo. In 1897 he moved to Colorado for health reasons. There he worked in a local dry goods store, moving to Wyoming when his partners opened a branch in Kemmerer, Wyo. (1902). He opened his own store in 1904; in 1907 he bought the two stores of his partners; by 1911 he owned a chain of 22 stores. He went public in 1927, giving shares of stock to all managers and including all employees in profit-sharing. By 1971, J. C. Penney had 1,660 stores and $4 billion in sales, making it the second-largest nonfood retailer in the U.S.A. A devout Christian—he published 50 Years with the Golden Rule (1950)—he gave generously to his favorite charities and maintained an active role in his company until his death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.