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Ron Johnson Acknowledges J. C. Penney Isn’t Apple

A J. C. Penney store at the Town Center at Aurora mall in Colorado
A J. C. Penney store at the Town Center at Aurora mall in ColoradoPhotograph by Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

Okay, so Ron Johnson is not the god of retail.

Even with his reputation for retail wizardry at Apple and Target, everyone knew it would be hard for him to work his magic at J. C. Penney. Instead of hawking cool, high-margin tech products for the hipster fan base of Apple, Johnson has to deal with busy moms, screaming kids, and the the broad swath of humanity that just wants a cheap pair of pants. Now, Johnson has been forced to reverse field, announcing that he’ll start holding sales again to boost the struggling department-store chain. It’s a bow to reality: Nobody goes to a J. C. Penney to drink in the ambience or check out what’s new with Joe Fresh. They’ve surfed the Web or seen an ad that tells them the store has Joe Fresh on sale.