It all started when a partner in the Golden Rule Stores in Colorado and Wyoming started his own store in Kemmerer, Wyo., in 1902. His name was James Cash Penney.
In 1927, one of his J.C. Penney Co. stores bought out the Golden Rule Department store in Medford, Ore., and remodeled the building at Six and Central streets. The modern, two-floor store even had a mechanical system that carried cash containers suspended on pulleys to the balcony accounting offices.
The depression hit as the store began to prosper. Hard times nearly closed the store, but Penney himself visited Medford and spoke to the Chamber of Commerce in 1931. His message: “The only thing which will bring back … ‘the good old times’ will be hard work and plenty of it. Prosperity will never run into us…we will have reached out and pulled it into the doors of our own establishments.”
The store survived and in 1948 built an “ultra modern department store” across the street with curved windows and a sweeping logo. The building houses the Southern Oregon Historical Society Research Library and Kidtime today.
Penney’s moved to the Rogue Valley Mall in 1986, where it remains today.
Sources: "J.C. Penney." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., 12 May 2016. Web. 14 May 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._C._Penney>. "Penney Plan Cure Times Plenty Work." Medford Daily News 4 Aug. 1931. Print.