NEW YORK — With the right location, a lot of space and a heavy load of merchandise, even a moderate-priced department store in a blue-collar market can generate some impressive numbers.

That’s the case at the relocated and expanded J.C. Penney in the Queens Center mall in Elmhurst, N.Y. The three-level, 200,000-square-foot store, with 157,000 square feet for selling, is poised to emerge as the chain’s top-volume unit, according to company officials.

The $17.7 billion J.C. Penney doesn’t break out specific store volumes, but sources said the Queens store should generate $370 to $400 in sales per square foot. That translates to roughly $60 million in annual sales, comparable to some Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus branches. Last year, the 1,020 Penney’s stores averaged $143 in sales per square foot.

“The assortment doesn’t get any broader than what you find here,” boasted Jeffrey S. Owen, the store manager, during a tour of the unit on Wednesday, just before the soft opening that day. The official debut was Friday.

The Elmhurst unit has long been a top performer. It’s run neck-and-neck with Penney’s in the Bay Plaza Mall next to Co-op City in The Bronx, which reportedly does around $340 in sales per square foot and has 187,000 gross square feet over three levels. The Penney’s in the Plaza Las Americas mall in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is currently the chain’s top-volume unit.

As part of a massive $275 million redevelopment of the Queens Center by owner/developer Macerich Co., Penney’s relocated from the front to the southeast corner of the mall, which is at the intersection of Queens and Woodhaven Boulevards. A new wing housing Penney’s and specialty stores links to the old building via a bridge above 94th Street; the entire mall has been renovated for an upscale, suburban look. The official grand opening for the mall was Saturday. The entrance to Penney’s is on 94th Street and 59th Avenue to the rear of the mall. The old Penney’s had 137,000 square feet, including 99,000 for selling.

At the new store, women’s apparel has grown to 45,000 square feet from 35,000, with Bisou Bisou, Arizona, St. John’s Bay and Worthington considered among the best-selling in-house labels, said Owen. Furniture and housewares have been added to the home mix, along with a larger selection of bedding and bath accessories. The styling salon was enlarged with additional stations and private rooms for manicures, pedicures and skin care.Also, men’s wear was increased to 37,000 square feet from 26,000, and the department is now near the street level entrance, whereas it was sub-level before.

Cosmetics has shifted to an open-sell orientation, from case display; accessories increased 73 percent in space and handbags tripled in size, and “impact walls” have been created alongside escalators to make fashion statements. One wall, for example, features a broad array of merchandise, from career wear to accessories, all in black and white.

Overall, the store focuses on merchandising clarity for easier shopping and item intensity; features larger graphics; displays outfits to encourage multiple sales, and has bigger display tables, often with three rows of goods instead of two. Sprinkled in several departments are “hot spots” utilizing the best floor real estate to promote key items.

Other features include a catalogue service area that’s right on the selling floor, whereas before it was hidden down a corridor, and a bigger photography studio with three rooms with cameras instead of just one. The employee count has risen to 450, from 330 at the old store.

Penney’s moved into Queens Center in 1990. The mall now gets up to 21 million visits a year and draws from a five-mile radius in Queens, where there is a population exceeding 2 million and where more than 30 languages are spoken.

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