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J.C. Penney turns 100

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
April 17, 2002
Betty Johnson started working part-time at J.C. Penney 26 years ago when she was a business school student and fresh out of high school.
Back then, Johnson was a cashier in the housewares and home department of the store in the old Village Fair Mall. She worked from 5 p.m.-9 p.m., weekdays and weekends.
Since that time, Johnson married, had two children and worked her way up as the store's service corridor supervisor. The department includes catalog and credit services for customers.
Johnson and other employees are celebrating a milestone: the 100th anniversary of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. Mayor John Robert Smith has even declared "J.C. Penney Days" now through Sunday in honor of the anniversary.
The department store has been a longtime fixture in Meridian, operating here for more than 75 years. The first Meridian store in downtown opened Oct. 3, 1925.
Other locations have included Village Fair Mall and, today, at Bonita Lakes Mall.
Each J.C. Penney store has individualized its anniversary celebration, according to Cresenti Williams, a senior department manager. Williams was part of the committee that planned events at the Meridian store, along with fellow employees.
The store held sales over the weekend and an anniversary party Sunday. The store is also offering several giveaways throughout the rest of the week, including a Chevrolet Suburban, Carnival cruises and $100 gift certificates.
Store employees say they love the company and their job. Some, like Brenda Turberville who began work in 1974 as a hair designer have watched the Meridian store grow.
Although Turberville doesn't do hair anymore, she still sees some of her first clients, who continue to come to the J.C. Penney salon.