Posts Tagged ‘J.C. Penney’


Monday, December 13th, 2010

In January, 2011, we will launch our blog which will show the history of retailing in downtown North America. We will employ our collection of over 10,000 postcards of these famous stores. Our purpose is to bring to life these Grand Dames that existed in major metropolitan areas as well as in small town America. We also want to make this interactive so customers and associates of these retailers can memorialize their thoughts in the Comments Section for the Blog.

Our first series will be about the stores in Southern California. We will feature Los Angeles stores such as Goodman’s Department Stores, Coulter’s, Hamburger’s, May Company, Broadway, Bullock’s, Bullock’s Wilshire, I Magnin & Co, Desmond’s, Mullen & Bluett, and others. San Diego stores will be Marsten’s and Walker-Scott. Harris Stores in San Bernardino is another.

The second series will cover Northern California. This will include San Francisco Bay Area stores such as: City of Paris, White House, Gump’s, Emporium, Capwell’s, Kahn’s, Rhodes, Hale Stores and more. The Sacramento store, Weinstock-Lubin, and the Fresno’s Gottschalk’s will be included.

During the year we will continue to post blogs on other states and provinces in North America.

Collecting the postcards for these Grand Dames has been enormously satisfying. I don’t want this important part of retail history to be forgotten. I hope you will have as much fun reviewing this collection and adding your comments and memories of these institutions in the Comments/Leave A Reply section below. If you have postcards of any of these stores which are different from my collection I would be honored to have the opportunity to post your card on the Blog.

Elmira, New York

Note: Elmira, New York, like most small towns has variety (five & dime) stores next to local department stores. Sometimes they also had a chain department store such as J.C. Penney, Sears, and/or Montgomery Ward. The variety stores always had excellent real estate in the busiest part of downtown. The local department store catered to both value-oriented and upscale customers with their good, better, and best merchandising program. The rest of the stores included a local drug store, a millinery store, a gift store, a hardware store, an automotive tire & battery store, a cinema/theatre, a candy/soda fountain, a cigar/tobacco/news store, a feed/farm store, a cafeteria, auto dealerships, a barber shop, and a restaurant or two. Of course, there was always a grocery store.

Downtown areas in major metropolitain areas were different as the stores were bigger. Department stores were what we today would call a shopping center. They were large and catered to different customers (budget, moderate, and luxury).


Thursday, November 11th, 2010

How to make an impression with an executive recruiter?

Quality recruiters are retained by a client to work for them on specific assignments. Their objective is to find the best talent for their clients. How you work with quality recruiters can lead to a positive or a negative impression of you when you need them when making our next career change. Following are suggestions I recommend for you when dealing with retained recruiters.

Positive Impressions
• Be available and help the recruiter. A recruiter can be a good friend and values your input.
• When your schedule is tight, suggest a time to talk.
• Listen carefully to the position being discussed. If you are not interested, immediately let the consultant know and offer to come up with suggestions of possible candidates or where the consultant might find strong candidates.
• Always have a resume handy. Make sure your resume is accurate and that spelling is correct.
• Look your best when you show up for an interview. Be yourself and show you care.
• When you show up for your interview, make sure you have done research on the client. If it is a retailer, make sure you have visited a store first.

Negative Impressions
• Avoiding contact with the recruiter sends a negative message.
• Avoid being derogative about the client or the position. What is unacceptable to you is always an opportunity for someone else.
• If you are interested, avoid exaggerating your credentials and experience. This information always gets checked in the recruitment process.
• Don’t go around a consultant and directly to the employer
• Avoid missing or being late for your appointments.

Recruiters retained by a client and represent that client. They are bound to a code of ethics which best represents the client. They will keep your information confidential and will work with you to get accurate information on your background to demonstrate to the client why you are an appropriate candidate. The relationship the recruiter and the candidate build is important so the recruiter can best present you.

Some recruiters work on a contingency basis. That means they are not necessarily working with the client on an exclusive basis. They are also not bound to the same code of ethics retained firms follow. As a result, you should be cautious when working with recruiters who are not retained.

You have the right and should ask each recruiter who calls if they are working on a retainer basis.

How Do I Explain A Gap In My Employment History

Monday, October 4th, 2010


I often discover a gap in a candidate’s employment history while reviewing their resume. What is surprising is that so many individuals do not know what to do about these employment gaps. Some individuals try to hide it, which is lying. Others try to stumble through an explanation which makes an employer suspicious.

There are many reasons for a gap in your employment history. These could be:

  • Your employer went out of business leaving you looking for employment.
  • Your employer terminated your employment due to a staff reduction.
  • Your employer terminated you for cause.
  • Or, you quit.


Any of these reasons could leave you with an employment gap while you were looking for a new career. Sometimes, the gap is longer because of an economic downturn or because your family did not want to relocate.

What ever the reason, you should show the employment gap on your resume and be ready to fully explain what you were doing during that time. If you do not have a prepared and honest explanation it will lead prospective employers to think that something else was going on in your life … maybe incarceration.

The last thing you want to do is cover up an employment gap. If your perspective or, worse yet, your new employer finds out about the cover up, you will most likely be not hired, or terminated. Now, it is too easy for employers to verify accurate dates of employment; and, employers do check.

Honesty is the best explanation. An example of a good explanation is ….” after I left company xyz, I started looking for opportunities in my city. Unfortunately, there are no other retailers there so I tried to transfer my skills to another industry. My son/daughter was in his/her senior year in high school so our family made a choice not to relocate. A year later, I found myself still looking. With my son graduating, our family has now agreed to relocate.”

There are many other reasons. Do your best to honestly explain the situation.

Retail Executives: Education of the Highest Paid CEOs

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

In 2009, our firm published an article (listed below) indicating the level of higher education held by the CEOs of the top 100 retail companies. We have now identified the ten currently highest paid retail executives and have discovered that this group confirms our previous study. The complexity of the retail business is such that executives who possess the most intellectual tools rise to the leadership roles. The statistics are as follows:

Education of Highest Paid CEOs             Education of Top 100 Retail CEOs

BA degrees                 90%                                             85%

MBA degrees              10%                                            23%

JD degrees                   10%                                             6%

According to our research, the following executives fall into the category of the top ten highest paid executives. Total compensation for each is based upon current public records of publicly traded retail companies in the U. S.

Andrea Jung. Chairman and CEO – Avon

Total Compensation: $13.7 million

Education: Bachelor’s – Princeton University

Michael T. Duke. President, CEO and Director – Wal-Mart

Total Compensation: $13.3 million

Education: Bachelor’s – Georgia Tech

Terry Lundgren. Chairman, President and CEO – Macy’s

Total Compensation: $8.7 million

Education: Bachelor’s – University of Arizona

Francis S. Blake. Chairman and CEO – Home Depot

Total Compensation: $8.3 million

Education: Bachelor’s – Harvard College

JD – Columbia University

Myron E. Ullman – Chairman and CEO – J.C. Penney Company

Total Compensation: $8.0 million

Education: Bachelor’s – University of Cincinnati

Trudy Sullivan – President and CEO – Talbots

Total Compensation: $6.9 million

Education: Bachelor’s – Manhattanville College

Katherine L. Krill – CEO, President and Director – Ann Taylor Stores

Total Compensation: $6.9 million

Education: Bachelor’s – Agnes Scott

Robert A. Niblock – Chairman and CEO – Lowes

Total Compensation: $6.1 million

Education: Bachelor’s – University of North Carolina

Gregg W. Steinhafel – Chairman, President and CEO – Target

Total Compensation: $6.0 million

Education: Bachelor’s – Carroll College

MBA – Northwestern University

Carol M. Meyrowitz – CEO – TJX

Total Compensation: $5.7 million

Education: no degree

Following is the study we released in April, 2009, on the education level of the CEOs for the top 100 retail chains.


A new study conducted by Plummer & Associates on the Chief Executive Officer education at the top 100 retailers in the United States shows that today over 85% have college degrees. This represents a significant increase over Plummer & Associates’ 2002 study that showed only 60% had earned college degrees. The number with advanced degrees has remained about the same; however, the new study shows the breakdown at 23% with MBA degrees and 6% with JD degrees.

Does this continuing trend mean that the industry can no longer be led by the person who starts with a push cart? Our research shows that while working your way to the top may have been a viable career path in the past, the constantly evolving and complex nature of today’s retail landscape requires that executives must couple their ground up experience with the sophistication and strategic vision gained through earning a college degree.

Retailers have consolidated from regional companies led by founding families into massive, complex businesses requiring sophisticated tools to manage them effectively. This new breed of retailers is intensely competitive and constantly looking for cost and marketing advantages to secure their market position.

Some of the complexities facing retailers today demand a command of the following disciplines:

  • Marketing – Sophisticated reporting systems have elevated the ability to forecast demand, measure customer buying pattern changes, brand awareness and customer loyalty, and help build brand value. Each retailer now operates through more than one channel, (retail, e-commerce, catalog, direct marketing) requiring that the decisions made for each channel are highly strategic.


  • Supply Chain Management/Logistics – Today there are tools available to help retailers secure significant cost advantages throughout the supply chain while simultaneously improving customer service. This gives retailers significant competitive advantages.


  • Merchandise Management – Advanced technologies are now required to source merchandise for product development, assortment planning, SKU rationalization, customer knowledge, trend analysis, and inventory and category management. The most important part is using these technological advances to increase profitability.


  • Finance – This function has quickly progressed from recording history to active involvement in creating value through analytics and is now vital in allowing a retailer to compete for capital against all other industries.


  • Legal – Our society has become more litigious making larger businesses more of an attractive target. The complexity of new regulations has resulted in an increase in legal staff. A retail leader is now required to be more involved and responsible for setting the tone of legal strategies.


  • Human Resources – Once considered just a major expense, Human Resources managed effectively must now create differentiation versus competition. A company’s culture and devotion to the customer are now more important than ever.


  • Information Technology – In the past, technology seemed to be the sole domain of the IT department. With advanced POS systems, the retailer has learned the power of information and no longer relies solely on market information provided by the vendor. Leading edge IT departments now interrelate with the entire organization by providing useful information to aid in decision making, control costs, forecast, and analyze. Companies are now operating enterprise-wide systems and the CEO must know the capabilities of these systems to ensure the company gains a competitive edge.


  • Global Reach –The days when retailers only operated stores in the U. S. with product only secured from U. S. sources are gone. The implications of the global activities are enormous.


Forward-looking retailers who saw the need for talented executives brought highly educated executives into the retail industry. In the late 60s and 70s the retail industry started recruiting top students from colleges and graduates from MBA programs. The top leaders at that time were: Jewel Tea, Federated Department Stores, J.C. Penney Co, Sears Roebuck & Company, Kroger, The Dayton Hudson Corporation, and The May Department Stores Company. Those recruiting programs have produced many of the CEOs of today’s successful retailers.

For those looking to progress up the ladder in retail, the data indicates that the career path from bagperson to CEO is no longer viable, nor practical. Retailers striving to be successful must compete for the best educated. And future leaders in retail must strive to educate themselves and that education must include minimally the rigors of earning a bachelor’s degree. Earning an MBA and/or a JD degree greatly improves one’s chances. This is not because one needs a degree to punch up a resume; rather it is the intellectual tools gained through formal education combined with on-the-job training that prepares an executive for the rigorous and evolving challenges facing retailers today.

While the 2002 study indicated no particular school had the lead in producing future CEOs, the current research indicates that a new trend is starting to develop. Harvard University has taken the leadership position having five CEOs with undergraduate degrees and five with MBA degrees. Second is The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business with three CEOs holding an undergraduate degree. Columbia University and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University are tied with three CEOs each holding MBA degrees. The University of Illinois has three CEOs with undergraduate degrees.

It is clear the retail industry needs to compete in the market place to bring the brightest talent with superior intellectual tools and education to manage the business for the future.