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TheStreet Open House

J.C. Penney: A National Disgrace

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Maybe I live in an alternate universe. But I don't think so. I stopped being the guy who calls everybody else crazy, himself sane and spews bitterness at the world long ago. That's part of the reason I can't seem to figure out why I care so much about something I really shouldn't care about.

What's it matter to me if JC Penney (JCP) and Best Buy (BBY) embarrass themselves and manage to perpetuate the death spiral of an entire industry? Why does it bug me that JCP hires as CEO and BBY appoints to its board the folks who napped under their desks while Amazon.com's (AMZN) Jeff Bezos had his way with them?

For more than a year, I have hounded JCP and BBY. I have been harsh. No doubt. But, frankly, I'm tired of haters misdirecting anger at me for calling it as I see it.

Have the people who think I should give Ron Johnson and JCP, as well as the good old boys at BBY, the benefit of the doubt heard from the rank and file at either company? Have they done even the least bit of digging in the corporate halls of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Plano, Texas? If they had they would know that, while some employees at JC Penney and Best Buy disagree with the bearishness -- some even "hate" me for it -- other past and present employees nod in the affirmative: He's saying what I feel and what I wish I could say publicly.


Not to go all melodramatic on you, but futures hang in the balance here. Of the brick-and-mortar retail space. And the livelihoods of quite a few people inside and outside of these companies.

As Yahoo! Finance's Jeff Macke tweeted Tuesday:

Of course Johnson walks away loaded.

It is maddening. Companies such as JC Penney should be ashamed of themselves.

As I explained on CNBC and CNN Tuesday, Ron Johnson sold us all a bill of goods. He spun himself as something he's not -- a visionary. There's no doubt he believed his own hype, but it's a much better quality, for yourself and those around you, to know your limitations.

Ron Johnson might be a good manager. He implemented and executed Steve Jobs's vision at Apple (AAPL) like a good MBA. The vision, however, was not his. As such, he had no business being CEO at a company that requires a visionary. Neither does Mike Ullman. So, as Macke alluded to, nobody over there gets it.


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