From Wyoming Tales and Trails
This Page: Kemmerer continued, J. C. Penney and the Golden Rule Store.
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The Triangle, Kemmerer, Wyoming, approx. 1900, Photo by J.B.Roberts
Golden Rule Store, approx. 1908
Saloons on east side of Triange, 1911.
James Cash Penney J. C. Penney (1875-1970) received his start in the retail business when he purchased a butcher shop in Longmont, Colorado. The chef for one of Penney's major customers required a kickback in form of a bottle of bourbon. When Penney refused, the account was withdrawn, and Penney's business failed. In 1898, Penney went to work for Thomas M. Callahan and William Guy Johnson of Fort Collins who operated a small chain of stores known as "Golden Rule Stores." Penney was ultimately assigned to the company's store in Evanston. There, Penney was such a success, Johnson and Callahan offered Penney the opportunity to become a partner in a new Golden Rule store in Ogden, Utah. Penney declined Ogden, but, instead asked for the opportunity to oen a store in Kemmerer. On April 14, 1902, Penney opened the new Kemmerer "Golden Rule Store." Penney and his wife were required to reside in the attic above the store. Water for the laundry had to be hauled up to the attic in buckets using a pully. Notwithstanding, that the new store did not offer credit and competed with the Kemmerer Coal Company's store which did offer credit, the new enterprise was a success. The first day's receipts totaled $466.59. By the end of the year the store had grossed $28,898.00 and a net profit of $8,524.00. Penney's share of the profits enabled him to pay off all debts and put $800.00 in the bank. The store was open seven days a week, opening on Sundays at 9:00 a.m. In a short while, Penney was able to move to a modest cottage at the edge of the commercial district. In the 1970's the cottage was moved to a position across the street from the Triangle.
With the sucess, in 1907, Callahan and Johnson offered Penney the opportunity to buy the Kemmerer operation and two other stores. As new stores opened, Penney offered his managers an opportunity to buy an interest in their stores. This provided an incentive and guaranteed the sucess of the chain. With further growth and in order to be nearer suppliers, Penney moved to Salt Lake City and later to New York. He also developed business interest in Florida where he invested in a bank and a dairy and cattle operation known as "Penney Farms" in the northeast section of Florida.
Penney Farms, Florida. Photo courtesy Florida Bureau of Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.
Kemmerer, about 1930, Triangle to right.
The J. C. Penney store depicted in photo opened in 1929 and was the third location for the store.
Kemmerer, Wyoming, 1907
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