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BUSINESS: Sephora, Disney area coming to Bemidji J.C. Penney

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BEMIDJI -- The J.C. Penney store at the Paul Bunyan Mall this summer will start to resemble stores in major metro cities as the chain plans to remodel the Bemidji location and bring in three new attractions.

Coming to the Bemidji store will be a 2,200 square-foot Sephora section, a new Disney-themed area and a program referred to as a center core environment.

Headlining the remodel is Sephora, a cosmetic line from Europe that is set up as a "store within a store" concept, according to Bemidji J.C. Penney General Manager Michael Beard. The Sephora line offers an assortment of makeup, skincare, fragrance, bath and accessory products to customers.

Additionally, the store will be staffed with beauty consultants educated in makeup application and skincare solutions. The partnership with J.C. Penney and Sephora began in 2006 and is now featured in more than 500 locations.

However, Beard said Bemidji will be the smallest market the chain has attempted to locate a Sephora.

"The other ones have been in larger metropolitan areas," Beard said. "We feel very fortunate that they're looking at a medium-sized market like Bemidji to continue expanding."

The next attraction, a Disney shop, continues a partnership between the two companies that is featured in more than 700 J.C. Penney stores nationwide. The shop in Bemidji will continually be updated to reflect new merchandise from the latest Disney animated films and provide more than 300 exclusive toys, collectibles and apparel, officials said.

The center core environment program, meanwhile, is the latest addition to the J.C. Penney chain as a whole, starting as a pilot program just last year.

Beard described the program as a promotion of cross shopping, with women's accessories located in both merchandise and fashion areas. The center core environment will include better lighting, more organization, new fixtures and lighted display cases.

"It's putting effort into an area that hasn't gotten as much attention," Beard said.

Because of the success of the pilot program, Beard said the corporate office decided to expand center core to 75 stores, including Bemidji.

Remodeling  work is expected to start this month with completion in July. The project has mainly been planned as a way to make space for the new attractions, but Beard said the entire store will get some new lighting, interior painting along with new displays and graphics.

“We’re excited, it’s another great addition to the property,” said Scot Snitker, national property manager Lexington Realty International, owners of the Paul Bunyan Mall.

“They’ve had quite a turnaround over the last two-three years. I think this is another positive step in the right direction. We’re very happy to have them as a tenant and we look for them to continue to grow.”

Once the project is finished, the addition of the new sections in the store will also result in three new full-time positions and seven part-time positions. Beard said the store will remain open during the remodeling process with as little disruption to the store as possible.