Turning a brilliant idea into reality takes persistence, dedication and a lot of waiting around. Even some of the most famous entrepreneurs of our time have confessed that growing a company or developing an idea is a process that can’t be rushed. One in particular was James Cash Penney, the American businessman who founded the J.C. Penney stores.
Even at such a young age, Penney had the creative mind of an entrepreneur. At 8 years old, he spent his time working at local farms so that he could buy a new pair of shoes after his makeshift cardboard soles deteriorated in the rain. What a smart kid! Who would’ve known that 18 years later, Penney would be the owner of a store that would soon grow into a powerhouse in the retail industry?
The young entrepreneur opened the first J.C. Penney store in the small mining town of Kemmerer, Wyoming in April 1902. The store was founded on the principle of the Golden Rule, which was the “idea to make money and build business through serving the community with fair dealing and honest value.” Growing up, money was tight for Penney’s family, and there were many times when his parents couldn’t even afford to buy clothes for their children. The store provided a foundation for serving the community and gave Penney a chance to provide for others what he wasn’t able to have as a child.
When J.C. Penney first opened, it sold men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, shoes and fabric. Since then, the store has expanded its merchandise to include home décor and new services like photography and salons. Today, there are over 1,100 J.C. Penney locations throughout the United States.
Penney took a leap into entrepreneurship by taking chances and risks. Many doubted his choice to open the first J.C. Penney store in a small, low-income community. Nevertheless, he believed in his plan and never looked back – his persistence and faith in his employees helped J.C. Penney skyrocket into the multibillion-dollar company that it is today.
At Far West Capital, we also base our business around Penney’s Golden Rule – we work together to serve the community by helping entrepreneurs grow and succeed to reach their full potential. As Penney said, “a merchant who approaches business with the idea of serving the public well has nothing to fear from the competition.” We tip our hats to you, James Cash Penney.