Randy Sims is the new manager of Medford's seasonally decorated JC Penney's department store. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Bob Pennell

Mall JCPenney chief hits ground running

Randy Sims has taken charge of Rogue Valley Mall's JCPenney store right when the action is heating up.

Retailers here and across the nation are gearing up for the holidays, adding staff and hoping to snare consumer dollars.

Sims, a seven-year veteran with the Plano, Texas, retail chain, succeeds longtime Medford store manager Frank Clifton, who has retired.

"It sounds crazy, but it's actually a good time of the year to start," said Sims, an Illinois native who has 18 years of retail experience, including a stint with Marshall Field before it became part of Macy's.

"It's always been my favorite time of the year. It's very engaging with customers coming to the store, and it's very fast-paced."

Before arriving in Medford, Sims was a home-store manager for JCPenney in Anchorage, Alaska, an assistant manager in Olympia, Wash., and later a talent resource leader in Puyallup, Wash.

"Many years ago, I watched a National Geographic show on America's great scenery, and Crater Lake was part of it," Sims said. "Ever since, I've had a huge picture of Crater Lake on the wall. It's a beautiful place. I almost fainted when I saw this store was so close to the area where I always wanted to live."

Sims takes over a store with a 120-person staff for a legacy retail corporation that has struggled in recent years. But that isn't something he can control.

"The one thing we can do is be very consistent and focus on quality customer service," he said. "I'm just now assessing the team here, and I want to ensure all customers are offered great service. I'm sure that's been done in the past, and I want to continue Frank's legacy."

The National Retail Federation estimates November and December sales will increase 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion. The forecast is higher than the 10-year holiday sales growth average of 3.3 percent.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay called the prediction realistic, in a press release.

"Overall, retailers are optimistic for the 2013 holiday season, hoping political debates over government spending and the debt ceiling do not erase any economic progress we've already made," Shay said."

Kohl's, which has a store on the north end of the mall, has announced it will beef up its sales staff for the holidays by more than 50,000 nationwide.

Kohl's, headquartered in Menomonee Falls, Wis., anticipates hiring an average of 40 associates per store at its 1,158 stores.

Macy's, which has two stores in the mall, said it plans to add about 83,000 seasonal hires, up 3.8 percent from 80,000 hired last year.

Walmart, which has two superstores in Medford, one in Eagle Point and another in Grants Pass, is hiring 55,000 seasonal workers nationally. The Bentonville, Ark., company said it will elevate 35,000 temporary workers to part-time status and 35,000 part-time workers to full-time status.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. said it plans to hire 70,000 workers, a 20-percent drop from a year ago.

Sims said the local JCPenney will continue hiring through November.

"If we find a great person, we're going to bring them on board," he said. "We want to ensure that our customers are engaged by the best people."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or

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