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JCPenney store in Grants Pass to close

JCPenney's Grant Pass location is on the list of 138 stores slated to close in the next few months, according to a list released Friday by the national retailer.

The company first announced in February plans to shutter 130 to 140 stores, joining other major department store chains whose operations have been affected by changing shopping patterns and online competition. The Medford store in the Rogue Valley Mall was not on the list.

Sarah Holland, a spokesperson at the company's corporate headquarters in Plano, Texas, said about 25 employees will be affected at the Grants Pass location.

The Grants Pass Shopping Center store joins locations in Astoria, La Grande, Pendleton and The Dalles as ones marked for closure in Oregon, as the company takes steps to advance sustainable growth and long-term profitability.

The liquidation process is scheduled to begin April 17, with closures occurring in mid-June.

Sharon Armstrong, a shopper at the Grants Pass store Friday, said she heard the news earlier in the day and wasn't too happy about it. She doesn't like to shop at Wal-Mart, and likes the quality of Penney's better than Fred Meyer.

"Do I want Penney's to leave — no I don't," Armstrong said. "I also didn't want to see Gottschalks leave."

Will she make the trip to Medford to shop at Penney's? "I probably will," said Armstrong. "The drive wouldn't be as annoying as driving the same distance in San Francisco."

Shopper Alice Romick of Grants Pass said she was sad to hear the news and sad that the shopping center continues to lose stores.

"Penney's is one of the only places in town to shop for someone my age," said Romick, who said she was in her 50s.

In addition to 138 retail outlets, the company will close a supply facility in Lakeland, Florida, and relocate one in Buena Park, California.

JCPenney reports it is in the process of identifying relocation opportunities within the company for "esteemed leaders," and will provide outplacement support services for employees effectively out of a job.

In January, the retailer sold its corporate headquarters in Plano, a suburb of Dallas, for $353 million in an effort to reduce its debt load.