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Can a Makeover Pull JCP Back from the Brink of Irrelevance?

In an attempt to revive flagging consumer interest, long-embattled retailer J.C. Penney is finally getting a facelift at one Texas location.

The 117-year-old department unveiled its newly re-imagined concept store format just outside of Dallas in Hurst, Texas, last week. In a statement, the company defined JCP’s ethos as “experiential at its core,” and said that the new look and feel was conceived using insights from more than a year of customer research.

The concept store makeover represents a “comprehensive foundational and transformational” shift in the store’s “holistic plan to rebuild,” the company said said.

The concept store’s greatest changes will be in its layout, which will be completely revamped with the aim of making it easier and more convenient for shoppers to find what they’re looking for. The apparel assortment will be organized in sections defined by wearing occasion, ranging from an “All Day” work and weekend selection to an “On Point” selection for when shoppers are looking for something more polished.

The concept store’s “Move” section will carry an array of low- to high-impact athletic wear, while the “Chill” section will showcase loungewear and sleepwear. Special occasion staples will be found in the store’s “Shine” section.

CEO Jill Soltau said consumers demand a retailer that “reflects their lives, makes them feel good about themselves, is fun to shop and truly understands the important moments in their lives, big and small. We bring that complete experience to life at our brand-defining store.”

Adding to the in-store experience, the department store chain has introduced its first barber shop, dubbed The Barbery, which offers men fresh cuts, shaves and shoe shines. The store will feature The Salon, powered by InStyle, offer women’s styling services, similar to other JCP stores around the country.

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Fitting rooms at the concept store, now called Styling Rooms, will now be equipped with technology that enables consumers to request different colors or sizes of garments without having to leave or speak with an associate. Additionally, the Styling Rooms will be staffed with experts who can offer style advice or help shoppers pull together an ensemble free of charge.

In a move that suggests that JCP is looking to become a lifestyle destination instead of just a shopping venue, the concept store is rolling out “Style and Substance” beauty workshops and classes, as well as demos of homewares and cooking gadgets. A “Movement Studio” will feature instructor-led classes to complement the store’s selection of activewear.

For busy parents without access to a babysitter for the afternoon, the concept store houses a clubhouse to entertain youngsters, as well as being outfitted with 11 different lounges and two cafes for shoppers looking for a quiet moment to recharge. The company has also re-imagined its portrait studio, once a staple for family holiday photos. Through a partnership with Shutterfly, the concept store has launched the Picture Pop Selfie Studio.

Perhaps most important, JCP is diving headfirst into the 21st century by enabling access to most of these features on its app. Users can book appointments at the Salon or the Barbery, schedule curbside pickup for their purchases, sign up for workshops and fitness classes, reserve products and call an associate for support from anywhere in the store.

“This store is more than a renovated location, it is the fullest articulation of our customer-centered strategy, an investment in our future and a lab to inform decisions to return J.C. Penney to sustainable, profitable growth,” Soltau said.