Sunday, December 21, 2014

Retailer spreads Christmas Cheer to Teen and Her Family

This will only make sense if you read these two posts first:

We made the news! I won't send the entire article because of copyright considerations, but we are the lead story on today's print and electronic editions of the Marshalltown Times-Republican. How nice is that!

Here's another funny part of the story. My cousin, Denise Kemp, works at the Times-Republican. I actually called her ahead of time when my imagination was running wild and tentatively said, "You don't think they would have the paper come out, do you?" She said no way. She told me they were down to two reporters and it was a busy news time in town with big stories on a murder and a shooting. She said they might run a photo after the fact if the store sent one in. So when Jacob from the T-R was waiting for us in the store, I immediately thought, "That dang DENISE! I've been duped!"

I went to Denise's house that afternoon, and she told me that she really didn't know because she is in a different department. AND even if she had known, she couldn't have told me because she signed a confidentiality agreement that prevents her from revealing things like that. Well played. :)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

We Just Got Jingled at JCPenney!

What an exciting day this has been! If you haven't already, please start by reading yesterday's post.

We were very excited to get to JCPenney this morning, but got a late start because we ran into the same funeral procession THREE TIMES while doing some simple errands (a few too many than I should have attempted)! I called Ryan Peck, the store manager, and he said not to worry.

When Emma, Alli, Gwen, and I finally arrived, Mr. Peck asked us to come to the front of the store. He introduced us to a young man from The Marshalltown Times-Republican newspaper who took some photos and interviewed Emma and me about our experience. Brenda, the sales associate who helped us was also there, along with a few other employees.

Then the manager asked if it was ok to video record the next part. He started to get choked up, and told us how JCPenney has been looking for stories around the country and ways they can give back this Christmas season. As soon as they read my story, they knew they wanted to do something for us. This was the only story that had been picked in the state of Iowa. The plan was set just a few hours after I sent the email, which is VERY impressive for a company the size of JCPenney! Then Mr. Peck told us that they were giving us a $500 gift card to JCPenney! WOW!!! That's when I started tearing up. It was way more than I had expected, and was so touching! I said that I was trying to do something nice for them and didn't expect to get anything in return. He told me that is exactly why we were picked. I will post a link to the video and newspaper article after they are published.

For the first several minutes, I walked around the store with my hand over my mouth saying, "I don't know where to start!" The kids were giggling about that! We didn't spend all the money, but we sure got a good start. First, we went to the shoe department and got Alli the Converse shoes she'd asked for on Thanksgiving, but I had told her no. Emma got some jeans and a shirt that will go with her boots. Gwen wanted a necklace and a shirt. TJ got $55 worth of socks, which isn't as many socks as you would think it would be. I got a robe to replace my old one that I've had for about 15 years.

But my favorite thing I got is a sapphire ring. I'm not a jewelry person. TJ bought me jewelry the first couple years we were married, until I explained to him that I wasn't that kind of girl. But for some reason, when I was shopping at JCPenney on Thanksgiving, a ring caught my eye. It was on clearance for about $40 that night minus my coupons, and it fit my finger perfectly. I know because I tried it on three different times. In the end, I didn't want to spend that much money on something that wasn't practical. But for some reason, I kept thinking about that ring, and I regretted not buying it. So when we were invited to return to this very store, one of the first things I thought of was that ring. I assumed it would be gone. It was the only one in the store, and by this time would have been sitting in the clearance section for nearly a month. I was afraid to look, so it was the very last department we visited. It was there! And now this ring will remind me of the struggles we have gone through with Emma's little foot and of the beautiful kindness from JCPenney.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Something Exciting is Happening at JCPenney Tomorrow!

This poor POOR little blog has been abandoned! But guess what! Something exciting is happening! 

It all started when my sister and I took our teenage daughters Black Friday shopping in Marshalltown, Iowa. The very first store we visited was JCPenney. Fast forward to December 16, when I FINALLY sent this email to the corporate office. My hope was that the associate and store manager would be recognized for excellent customer service.  

I was shopping with my 15-year-old daughter, Emma, in the Marshalltown, Iowa store on Thanksgiving evening. Emma was born with a severe club foot and struggles with self-esteem issues. She is able to walk, but that foot is quite misshapen and is 3 sizes smaller than her other foot. As you can imagine, shoe shopping is no fun and is expensive. To be honest, it is often a traumatic experience, and Emma usually cannot fit into the styles of shoes she would like to wear. Emma's eyes lit up when she saw the Thanksgiving boot display in your store. I told her that JCPenney doesn't do anything for people with differently sized feet, but she insisted that I ask. The sales associate told us what I expected...unfortunately, we would have to buy two pairs of boots. I just wasn’t prepared to do that. We were standing near the shoe department a minute later, and the sales associate came running up with a big smile on her face. She told us that her manager said the store could sell us a mixed pair of boots. I cannot express to you how happy this has made my daughter. I’m pretty sure she tried on every pair of boots in that store, and she found the perfect pair in sizes that fit her feet. She’s never had a pair of tall boots like so many teenage girls wear. As an added bonus, she is now comfortable wearing leggings because the boots conceal the extremely thin calf on her left leg. This act of kindness has had an amazing effect on my daughter. I would like to thank your company, the sales manager who approved the sale and most of all the sales associate who cared enough to ask permission. All this on the busiest day of the year. We have told many people about this story, and we will continue to shop at JCPenney.  
Ann Schaffer    

I didn't expect a response, but I received an email from the store manager the very next morning. He asked me to call his cell phone because it was his day off. The first thing I said to him was, "I hope I didn't get you in trouble!" Luckily I did not. He thanked me for my email and asked if I could come back into the store, but I explained that I live nearly an hour away in Waterloo. Coincidentally, he also manages the store 5 miles from my house, but he really wanted to get me back to the Marshalltown store. He said they would like to do something nice for my family. So the girls and I will be going there this tomorrow 12:30.

I have no idea what they are going to's so much harder to receive than it is to give! My initial reaction was that I wish the "something nice" would go to someone who needs it more than us. Of course my imagination was going wild. Here is a peak inside my twisted head...

- What if this is a big production?
- Will the news be there?
- Will someone be filming this?
- What if they ask us to be in a commercial for JCPenney?
- What if they are filming that commercial right there on the spot?
- What should we wear? I don't want to look like we've spent a lot of money on my clothes in case they think we don't have very much money, but also I want to look nice. Oh man...
- Should Emma wear the boots? (she will)
- Will Christmas carolers be present?
- Will all the associates dip into their own pockets for gifts? Are they sponsoring us for Christmas? Are our names on a giving tree in the JCPenney break room?
- If we get a gift card, would it look bad if I used it toward a ring I saw there that I really wanted, but didn't get? (It was under $100 and really pretty.)

Ok, I know my imagination needs medication. In reality, we are just going to enjoy this and will be happy with whatever they decide to do. I am also hopeful that the company will also do something nice for the sales associate.

Here's a photo of the boots in case you were wondering. Cute, right?

I will keep you posted on whatever happens tomorrow. We are looking forward to it!