As of Thursday evening, signs on the front of the Roseburg location of JCPenney tell customers that the store is temporarily closed.

If the company’s restructuring plan is approved in U.S. Bankruptcy Court next week, this JCPenney store at the Garden Valley Mall would be one of 154 stores nationwide to close permanently.

The news was announced Thursday on the company’s blog. Oregon stores in Bend, McMinnville and Salem would also close as part of what the company describes as its store optimization strategy.

The company, J.C. Penney Company, Inc., said in a press release the store closings will take anywhere from 10 to 16 weeks to complete. The court hearing is scheduled for June 11 in Corpus Christi, Texas.

“While closing stores is always an extremely difficult decision, our store optimization strategy is vital to ensuring we emerge from both Chapter 11 and the COVID-19 pandemic as a stronger retailer with greater financial flexibility to allow us to continue serving our loyal customers for decades to come,” Jill Soltau, chief executive officer of JCPenney, said in a prepared statement.

The closing, however, adds to the growing unemployment gash in Douglas County that has come in the wake of business closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, the Oregon Employment Department reported that Douglas County’s unemployment rate for April had grown to 16.7%.

The previous comparable rate came in 2009 when the county’s unemployment rate hit 17.2% during the Great Recession. The store will also be the second retailer in the Garden Valley Shopping Center to close. Pier 1 Imports, which announced in late February the company was filing for bankruptcy protection, had begun selling off its merchandise before closures caused by the pandemic expedited the store’s closing.

As a bit of good news, the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning reported the United States’ unemployment rate fell to 13.3% due to businesses reopening after measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 were eased. That’s still on par with the nation witnessed during the Great Depression of the 1930s but much better than the 14.7% rate which came right after the nation’s coronavirus lockdown.

Mike Henneke can be reached at or 541-957-4208. Follow him on Twitter @ihenpecked.

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Turn it into a homeless shelter and put all the bums that hang out on Jackson Street in it.

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