By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Havre is losing its JCPenney catalog store, six years after the company closed its retail store here.
The last day the catalog store will be open is next Thursday.
Shelley Welter, who owns the store with her former husband, Byron Welter, said the corporation told them in mid-August the store would be closed.
"They said it was costing too much to ship things here," she said. "Our sales were up 25 percent for the year, but they said it didn't matter."
She added that the corporation said the cost of returns from the Havre store also was cutting too deeply into the bottom line.
Brenda Romero of J.C. Penney Inc.'s corporate public relations office in Plano, Texas, said today it is against company policy to discuss the operations of specific stores.
"It was in fact a corporate decision to go ahead and discontinue the Havre, Montana, catalog store," Romero said.
She said that after an annual review of the business of the company's more than 400 catalog stores, J.C. Penney Inc. decided not to renew the operations agreement with the Havre store as well as other Penney catalog stores.
She declined to say how many catalog stores are being closed or to give their locations.
Caroline Wilson of Havre, a customer of the catalog store, said she will miss it.
"I'm not one to run to Great Falls for something," she said. "I do a lot of Penney's catalog shopping."
People can still order from Penney's on the Internet or order directly from the catalog. But Wilson said she doesn't want to switch to having orders shipped to her home because of the convenience and lower shipping costs of picking it up at the store. She said she doesn't seem to have much choice.
"It's going to be more expensive, I'm sure, but I guess I'll have to," Wilson said.
Shelley Welter was a department manager at the Penney retail store in the Holiday Village Shopping Center when it closed in the spring of 1998. She and Byron Welter opened the catalog store the same year.
She said recent policies of J.C. Penney Inc., such as encouraging home delivery, made her think the company might close the store.
"We knew this was coming for the last couple of years. We just didn't know when," she said.
She said the company has closed about 37 catalog stores this year.
J.C. Penney Inc. didn't send any Christmas catalogs to be distributed from the Havre store, Welter said. She said the company told her that people who have received notice from Penney's that they are entitle to a free Christmas catalog will have to get them from another store, like the retail store in Great Falls.
The catalog store moved in May 2003 from its location on Second Street and Third Avenue into the Atrium, and moved to a new location in the Atrium in mid-August, two days before the corporation said it would close the store, Welter said.
Welter said people need to pick up their orders by next Thursday or the orders will be returned to J.C. Penney Inc. The cost of any prepaid orders that are shipped back to Penney's will be credited to the customer, she said.
The store is not keeping regular business hours, and Welter recommended calling 265-2405 to make sure someone is there before a person comes in to pick up an order.
"I'm going to really, really miss some of my customers," she said. "I've had the best people ordering here."