The JCPenney store at 60 Elm Plaza in Waterville is scheduled to close permanently Sept. 22. Above, the store and some of its customers are shown Monday. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — JCPenney plans to close its store at Elm Plaza this fall after 40 years, but the news is not all bad: A Renys store is scheduled to open there next spring.

R.H. Reny Inc. owner John Reny confirmed Monday his company plans to open a store at 60 Elm Plaza, probably in April 2025. He said people have often told him over the years they hope a Renys will open in Waterville because there is nothing like it in the area.

“We’re just happy to be coming to another great town, Waterville, and we’re happy the people want us to be there,” Reny said Monday. “That’s a nice thing to know.”

Renys, which has been in business for 76 years and bills itself as “A Maine Adventure,” is a department store that carries a variety of merchandise, including Maine-themed gifts, clothing, footwear, housewares, food, cleaning products and summer furniture.

The company now has 18 locations in the state. The Waterville store will be its 19th, with the most recent store having opened in Bangor.

“We’ve got some happy people in Bangor,” Reny said. “It’s going very, very well — better than we thought.”


The Waterville store is expected to be about 30,000 square feet and employ between 25 and 40 people, mostly full time, according to Reny.

“That’s what we usually hire for a new store,” he said.

Meanwhile, JCPenney hung large banners late last week on the front of its Elm Plaza store that read “CLOSING.” Over the weekend, the store was advertising items at 20% to 50% off regular prices.

A shopper approaches the JCPenney store Monday at 60 Elm Plaza in Waterville. The store is scheduled to close permanently Sept. 22. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

A store employee confirmed Monday that JCPenney has been at Elm Plaza since 1984 and is scheduled to close Sept. 22. She referred further questions to the corporate office.

A media relations representative from JCPenney responded Monday evening with the following, sent by email: “Our JCPenney store at the Elm Plaza in Waterville, ME, will be closing its doors by September 22, 2024. Regretfully, we were unable to renew our current lease with the landlord for this store location and have been unable to find another suitable location in the market.

“We are grateful to our dedicated associates and the loyal customers who have shopped at our Waterville location throughout the years. We continue to work to make every dollar count for America’s diverse, working families and welcome them to shop at our other JCPenney stores in the area and at”


The company’s website says JCPenney opened more than 120 years ago, has more than 650 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, employs more than 50,000 people worldwide and is one of the largest retailers of apparel, home, jewelry and beauty merchandise.

The company was founded in Kemmerer, Wyoming, in 1902 by Cash Penney. Its first venture was the Golden Rule Store, which also was the standard by which the company has operated under over many years — treating others as they would like to be treated, according to the website.

Jessica Picard, communications director for the Maine Department of Labor, said Monday the department’s Rapid Response Team reached out to JCPenney and offered to provide services for affected workers. The team provides important information for laid-off workers about training, unemployment and health insurance options, Maine JobLink resources, immediate employment needs and CareerCenter services, according to Picard.

“In general, any workers statewide who are impacted by a layoff should reach out to their local CareerCenter, which can help connect them to reemployment services, training and other information,” Picard wrote in an email.

The CareerCenter can be reached via email at, by telephone at 207-623-7981 or through the LiveChat feature at, she said.

Those who shop the local JCPenney expressed sadness Monday that the store is to close after many years in Waterville.


Paula Raymond, 71, of Waterville recalled going to JCPenney with her family when she was a child for the annual trip to buy her father’s work clothes, which came in two colors: green and blue.

“Each year, we would swap the colors to give dad something to look forward to,” Raymond said. “Then, as a grown-up, I shopped for our kiddos because they catered to the kids and teenagers. Always good prices, great sales, incentive shopping and quality associates. Glad to welcome Renys. Sad to read that JC is leaving.”

Chris Weeks, 39, of Fairfield said news of JCPenney’s planned closure is bittersweet for him because when he was 8 or 9, he and his grandmother shopped at the store just about every week.

“She would always buy herself Alfred Dunner designer clothing,” Weeks said Monday. “She would always tell me he was her favorite designer. We would always browse the jewelry section. They all knew her by her first name because she was such a frequent shopper there.”

Weeks said he has many good memories of being at JCPenney, which he called the last department store in the area, and that he noted has “the same smell as it did 30 years ago.”

“I’m excited for Renys, but saddened that one store has to close so another can open,” he said. “I remember one of the cashiers would call me ‘the professor’ because I was always dressed so nice and she thought I looked like a little professor. And I got voted best dressed in school, so I thank my grandmother for helping with that.”

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