Hibbing J.C. Penney store to close

Hibbing’s Irongate Mall has suffered economic duress for years. Now it loses its biggest store, J.C. Penney’s. (Aaron J. Brown)

The Star Tribune reports that the Hibbing J.C. Penney store is among eight small town locations closing in Minnesota amid the company’s nationwide downsizing.

Other locations include: Baxter, Fairmont, Faribault, Hutchinson, Red Wing, Thief River Falls and Winona.

The inventory liquidation sales begin on April 17, according to the Star Tribune. The store will close June 18.

Earlier this year, J.C. Penney announced the closure of more than 130 stores, but didn’t identify them. Company officials said the market pressure of online retailers was forcing them to focus on higher traffic stores to remain profitable.

The closure of the Hibbing store, anchor of the woeful Irongate Mall, might not seem a huge surprise. However, it removes one of the only local stores that sells new “professional” clothing. J.C. Penney finds itself the butt of a lot of jokes about fashion, but the fact is that most Iron Rangers who work in an office or school shop their, myself included.

Hibbing’s closure also means another crisis for the Irongate Mall. The only remaining anchor store is JoAnn Fabrics, which could easily relocate and keep its customer base. Only a handful of smaller stores remain in the mall. (I wrote about the perils facing small Iron Range malls a few years ago).

This is truly an example of a national trend with local implications. Vanity stores also announced they were closing recently. Online competition struck a blow to brick-and-mortar retailers during the Christmas shopping season. For many stores the wound was fatal. Even mighty Target had one of its worst seasons in memory. Wal-Mart’s future planning seems focused on competing with Amazon, not its fellow box stores.

But on a personal note, losing the Hibbing J.C. Penney means goodbye to the place where my parents bought my first dress clothes. I bought the silk shirt I wore to my first school dance there. School clothes. Most of the clothing I wear on stage for the Great Northern Radio Show. The suit I got married in. All from J.C. Penneys.

I might be a dork. I might not subscribe to high fashion. But there are a lot more of us wandering the Iron Range than anyone realizes.



  1. David Gray says

    I’m going to miss the Baxter store. They are still reaping the consequences of all the stupid decisions made by the executive they brought in from Apple.

  2. If I’m not mistaken, there will be nowhere in Hibbing to buy a men’s suit. Only L&M and Wal Mart for normal women’s clothes. L&M and Wal Mart for any men’s clothes. We’re too cold to become a nudist colony….

  3. David Gray says

    At least Brainerd still has Herbergers and Kohls left.

  4. 60 years ago when Penney’s was located on Howard St downtown, I remember shopping with my mom and sister for school clothes. I haven’t lived on the Range for many years but there are still many things that bring back fond memories, including those shopping trips.

  5. People have got to Stop Shopping Online The majority of the time. At least try to mix it up a little. Also, support some of your local stores because in the end we will all pay more when there are no stores and jobs! Pay with some cash locally instead of always using plastic to help the businesses avoid processing fees. We are losing freedoms and jobs for convenience. It’s Pure Laziness and Stupidity.

    • David Gray says

      We don’t generally buy something online that we can get locally. But there is a lot you can’t get locally these days, even interpreting locally in a liberal fashion.

      At least the Cuyuna Range is seeing the Rangers to the state tournament for the 21st time. Go C-I Go!

      • RealRanger says

        Stay Entertained on Sports and Games and things are gong to change for the better! The reason you can’t get a lot of things locally is because most people are now shopping for everything online and now the only options left are Big Corporations/Internet.

        • David Gray says

          I know most of the kids playing down in the Twin Cities and I don’t regret wishing them well.

          I don’t think most people shop for everything on line. There are still a lot of advantages to buying from a local merchant, if what you seek is something they stock.

  6. Radio Shack is closing too, but no surprise there.

  7. While not having lived on the Iron Range for over 25 years, I still visit the area for vacations. As a grade school kid, I have a nostalgic paradigm of Iron Gate Mall. Needless to say the mall itself is a shell of its former glory and I do find that very sad. I remember when the mall had K-Mart (complete with internal café), a video rental store, a 3-screen theater (where I saw the Twilight Zone movie, Wargames, and years later while on a trip, Terminator 2!), and for me the jewel of the mall – a full up arcade (a place that was a self baby sitter for me and my brother while my parents shopped, I would argue that arcade was one the best I have ever seen). The last time I visited the Iron Gate was almost 2 years ago and I found myself remembering the mall’s glory days, if anything it’s a nice quite place for a walk while you gather your thoughts. I’m active duty military and I have had the opportunity to travel all over the world and while on my travels I have visited some of the largest and grandest shopping centers – Mall of America, Woodfield Mall in suburbs of Chicago (and was the largest mall in the world in the early 1980s), Aeon Mall in the Aomori Prefecture of Japan (Japanese malls are super cool, they take pop culture and shopping to a whole new level), and the largest mall in North America…the West Edmonton Mall (a place that makes even the great Mall of America seem average). But out of all these palaces of capitalism, the Iron Gate Mall will continue to be my favorite overall shopping location, sometimes less is more. That’s my two-cents on the fallen status of the Iron Gate Mall.

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