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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Relationships through Retail

  • Steve Scott started out running a vacuum cleaner at a J.C. Penney store in his hometown, Quincy, Ill. After a few promotions over nearly 44 years of service to the company, he’s retiring as manager of the J.C. Penney at Meadowbrook Mall.

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    Steve Scott started out running a vacuum cleaner at a J.C. Penney store in his hometown, Quincy, Ill. After a few promotions over nearly 44 years of service to the company, he’s retiring as manager of the J.C. Penney at Meadowbrook Mall.

    “I started with J.C. Penney when I was 16,” Scott said. “It was the second job I applied for, and the last job application I ever filled out. My job was to clean the store. I cleaned the restrooms and ran the vacuum cleaner. I  also helped with displays.”

    The Quincy store, unlike many others, had an elevator.

    “When I hit 18 I sometimes ran the elevator for customers,” he said. “That’s a job not many people have had.”

    Scott found that he loved working in retail sales.

    “The reason I loved it was because of the people I’ve worked with and the customers I see,” he said. “Now that the word has spread about me retiring, a lot of customers, people I don’t even know well, have been stopping me and wishing me well. That’s very nice.”

    He has worked in J.C. Penney stores in eight different cities.

    “PIttsburg was my first store in Kansas, and before then I had no idea where Pittsburg, Kansas was,” Scott said. “I loved
    Pittsburg so much that I asked them to leave me here. This store, this community, felt like home the first day I came.”

    That was on Oct. 16, 1999.

    He has seen changes over the past nearly 44 years, not always for the best. For example, in November 2011 the company hired, at great cost, Ron Johnson, a former Apple executive, to become the J.C. Penney CEO, replacing Myron “Mike” Ullman. Johnson proceeded to do away with the deep discounts and coupons that many of the company’s customers were so fond of, along with switching out clothing brands that had been favorites of many.

    Scott said in an interview at the time that it was the most sweeping change he had seen in all his time with J.C. Penney. 

    Page 2 of 2 - Unfortunately, it was not a popular change, but there’s good news. The company fired Johnson in April and gave Ullman his old job back.

    “We’re going to be bringing back coupons and other things customers like, brands such as St. John’s Bay,” Scott said. “I think customers will see a big change here by August.”

    What won’t change is the high quality of the store staff.

    “The associates and supervisors I’ve worked with here have truly made the job fun,” Scott said. “They deserve the credit for what customers like. Work is hard, but it’s the people you work with that make the difference in how work goes.”

    He’ll likely be in the store often as a customer  

    “My wife Kathy and I intend to make our home here in Pittsburg,” Scott said.

    He praised his wife for her support throughout his life and career, and making the best of his job transfers.

    The couple has two children. Daughter Stephanie lives in Grand Forks, N.D., and son John lives in St. Louis with his wife, Ashley, and their baby son, Noah. 

    “Noah is my first grandchild, and I want to spend more time with my family now that I have more time than in the past,” Scott said. “I’m also a former member of the Pittsburg Salvation Army Advisory Council, and I’d like to be able to do more volunteer work.”

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