Table of Contents


celebration of fools: an inside look at the rise and fall of jcpenney
Celebration of Fools: An Inside Look at the Rise and Fall of JCPenney
byBill Hare ISBN:0814471595

The author looks at JCPenney from its beginning in 1902 as a dry goods store, through its rise into a successful chain of full-service department stores rivaled only by Sears, Roebuck, to its fall into bankruptcy in the 1990s due to corporate bungling.

Table of Contents
Celebration of Fools”An Inside Look at the Rise and Fall of JCPenney
Part I - The Founder
Chapter 1 - America's Famous Old Man
Chapter 2 - Kemmerer
Chapter 3 - Bumpkins in the Big Apple
Chapter 4 - All Their Managers Are Like Masons
Chapter 5 - The Bailout
Part II - The Visionary
Chapter 6 - Socratic Method
Chapter 7 - Their Own Thing
Chapter 8 - Batten's Ascent
Chapter 9 - The Common Touch
Chapter 10 - A Quiet Man
Chapter 11 - The Memo
Chapter 12 - The Transaction Recorder
Chapter 13 - Last of the Good Men
Part III - The Betrayer
Chapter 14 - New Blood
Chapter 15 - Bill Howell
Chapter 16 - The Taj MaHowell
Chapter 17 - The Designer
Chapter 18 - Showtime
Chapter 19 - The "Golden Crescent"
Chapter 20 - Onward and Upward
Chapter 21 - The Speech
Chapter 22 - Where Have All the Values Gone?
Chapter 23 - What If I Talk to W. R.?
Part IV - The End
Chapter 24 - Jimmy-O the Farmer
Chapter 25 - There's Nothing There
Chapter 26 - Standing in His Underwear
Chapter 27 - The Funeral and HCSC
List of Sidebars

JCPenney was the quintessential American company. Since James Cash Penney opened his first store in the small mining town of Kemmerer, Wyoming, in 1902, this unique institution has been an iconic part of the national landscape. Founded and run on the core principles of thrift, hard work, and good citizenship, the retail giant prospered throughout the 20th century, even during the Great Depression, as American citizens came to rely on it for its good values and service.

But by the year 2000, its original beliefs arrogantly betrayed, JCPenney's Golden Age was, sadly, just a memory.

Celebration of Fools is an insider's look at JCPenney's remarkable rise and fall, charting the people and events that have been the history of this American institution. Packed with captivating stories and compelling characters --including the company's highest ranking woman -- Celebration of Fools offers valuable lessons applicable in today's business climate.

With an engaging, narrative style, former Penney executive speechwriter Bill Hare tells a compelling cautionary tale with universal implications for all of corporate America.

Casting new light and astonishing revelations on this American icon and the people who nearly destroyed it, Celebration of Fools will keep readers captivated from first page till last.

About the Author

Bill Hare (Dallas, TX) worked for 15 years as a speechwriter for senior executives in Fortune 500 companies, including two CEOs at JCPenney. He has won numerous advertising industry awards.

Celebration of Fools ”An Inside Look at the Rise and Fall of JCPenney

Bill Hare



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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Hare, Bill, 1934 “
Celebration of fools : an inside look at the rise and fall of JCPenney / Bill Hare.
p. cm.
Includes index.


1. J.C. Penney Co. ”History. 2. Stores, Retail ”United States ”History. 3.
Penney, J. C. (James Cash), 1875 “1971. 4. Merchants ”United States ”
Biography. I. Title.

HF5465.U6P4519 2004 381 ² .141 ² 06573 ”dc22


Copyright 2004 William Moorman Hare

All rights reserved.

This publication may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,
or transmitted in whole or in part,
in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise ,
without the prior written permission of AMACOM,
a division of American Management Association,
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

Printing number

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

For Elaine


Again and again I have read and heard about the Golden Age of Publishing and it's a shame that this book's wondrous editor, Ellen Kadin, wasn't born 30 years earlier. The book world of that time would have been privileged. The same thought extends to Ms. Kadin's editorial colleague Christina McLaughlin, who, in just one reading of an earlier manuscript, gave a trenchant and helpful critique. Likewise, I am particularly grateful for development editor Barry Richardson's sensitivity, keen eye, and wonderful touch. The woman who connected me to these people is my agent, Denise Marcil, whose attention to artistic and business detail make her another throwback to that Golden Age.

I am also indebted to my friend John Shostrom of Sports Illustrated for his adroit copyediting and excellent advice over the long course of writing this book. Erika Spelman, as well, kept everything together and on course during the book's production, and Georgia Maas did a fine job of vetting the final-final manuscript.

These acknowledgments do not include the many people who are mentioned in the book's introduction or who appear in its text. So this paragraph is about the others who consistently surprised me with their amiable generosity as mentors, conduits , or willing sources of information ”when, often as not, I just appeared out of the blue by mail, e-mail, fax, or phone line. Just listing them here can hardly begin to express my gratitude: Laura Castoro, Tom Comerford, Bill Conlin, Gordon Curry, Jim Davis, Mark Donald, Terry Eckert, John Hare, Dr. Marcia Kropf, James MacLean, John Mersereau, Joe Murphy, Jeff Pirtle, Ann Rule, and Richard Whittingham. Also ”for their patience and professionalism ”Kevin O's ullivan of AP/Wide World and David Woo of The Dallas Morning News.

Finally, there were valuable contributions from other Penney people who are still employed by the company and wished to remain anonymous.

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