Shoppers Sad To See JCPenney Close

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HAZLE TOWNSHIP -- The manager of the Laurel Mall in the Hazleton area says the search to find a replacement for the closing JCPenney store is already underway.

She says the mall was caught off guard by JCPenney’s announcement Wednesday that it is closing that store and 32 others.

We found loyal shoppers who were also surprised.

For some of the shoppers heading into JCPenney, it's hard to imagine the Laurel Mall without it.

“I was surprised when we were told it was closing,” said Lois Koslosky of McAdoo.

“It's upsetting. It's a good store,” said Joann Paul of Freeland.

“It's devastating,” said former employee Caryolyn Katona. “Even though it was rumored for so long, I am so sad. I worked there for 10 and a half years and I loved it.”

Katona left her job at JCPenney two months ago.  She knew the company was struggling nationwide in recent years but is still stunned hearing this store in the Hazleton area will really close.

“It's very emotional.  It's like somebody died because it was part of my life.”

JCPenney is one of three anchor stores at the mall, along with Kmart and Boscov's.

The mall manager says Boscov's is doing really well, but there have been a lot of other stores close recently and shoppers are noticing.

“It seems like when we do come to the mall someone says ‘this store is closing, this store is closing,’ so it's getting to be a concern I think,” said Ellen Staruch of Hazle Township.

With so many stores already gated and JCPenney about to be gated soon, stores still at the mall are hoping the big hole gets filled soon.

“I just hope that someone finds this little corner and finds a spot for themselves there,” said Laurie Veet.

Veet is manager at the Cigar Box, right near JCPenney. A lot of this store's neighbors have been closing.

While we were there, Veet shared a hug with a JCPenney employee who will be leaving soon.

“We are friends, we are family, even though they worked at a different store. We passed each other every day for 20 years.  We are like family to each other.”

“It's sad.  I wish stores would come in and stay for a long time. It seems everything just comes and goes,” Paul said.

The manager of the Laurel Mall says there have been some struggles there because of the rough economy and high unemployment in the area but that it is a priority to replace JCPenney.

It is planning to close at the beginning of May.


  • Robert Hildenbrand

    One should expect more of the same, so long as we have so many workers being paid poverty wages and their basic survival is supplemented by the government welfare system.

    Poverty wages drive consumer sales into only one place… The absolute basic necessities. So long as the order of the day is to do with less, so long as a person working 32-40 hours a week, cannot be a contributing member of the economy… We should expect more closings, more people becoming unemployed and more hands out to the government which will tax those who still have some wealth to tax.

    Then you have the fact that this area refuses to embrace new technologies and industries such as the Air port, that garbage reducing center that would have produced electricity for the city (lowering our electric bills) and a number of other hurdles for new age businesses to come into Hazleton.

    If you aren’t growing, you are dying. If you aren’t advancing your technology, if you aren’t changing with the times, so to improve the city, you are dying. Hazleton refuses to change, so it like the area around it will be left for the buzzards as the brain drain takes those with skills away to other areas which embrace change.

  • Michael

    Well you can thank Amy for the reason the small stores close and don’t come back. A lot of vendors even say they would not come back because of Laurel Mall Manager Amy.

  • Josh

    This is a surprise? I have been waiting any day now for that store to close. What little merchandise they had was overpriced and I never saw any customers going in or out. Boscov’s takes the cake when it comes to selection and sales.

  • Sherry Stives Fry

    So many stores have left our area mall. When a new one would arrive it was normal to wonder how long they would be around. With what the malls charge the stores for rent it is no wonder they end up leaving. I have always said, it would be smarter to charge less rent and have 95% of the spaces filled, than to gouge everyone and only have 75% of the spaces filled. Now it has gotten to the point where the big name stores cannot afford to carry the load.

  • Mary VanKuren

    If that store is anything like the one we have in Johnson City, NY, I’m not surprised. Penny’s has gone down hill for a long time. They have practically destroyed their bath & bedding dept. At one time they had a huge selection of bath towels, bath rugs and bedding. I can say that about all their departments.

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