The Long Goodbye: A lot of bargains, a lot of sadness at JCPenney these days

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ROCHESTER - Even the guy with the sign beckoning cars into the Lilac Mall JCPenney looked sad on Saturday.

For Jennifer Webb of Rochester hunting for bargains it was also bittersweet.

"I came here as a child," she said as she and her children - each clutching toys or clothing they'd just bought - headed for their car in the Lilac Mall parking lot.

Inside the store the line to the registers looked like Christmastime.

A store manager said she could make no comment on the mood of employees since they'd learned the store would be closing for good earlier this month.

JCPenney filed for bankruptcy protection last month, and soon after announced plans to close 242 of its 846 stores.

Others to be closed across the state include locations in Keene, North Conway and West Lebanon.

Another couple getting into their car after shopping said it was "kind of sad" inside the store.

"This is where a lot of Rochester residents work," he said.

The man who didn't want to have his name in the paper said he and his wife had been shopping at the Lilac Mall anchor for about 20 years.

"We used to buy all our kids' uniforms here for St. Elizabeth Seton School for years," he said. "Now we're going to have to go to Portsmouth to do our shopping."

Signs inside the store let customers know that all sales are now final.

The manager we spoke to said the store will remain open till September and the 25-40 percent discounts now in effect could drop through the summer.

The Rochester store employs some 30 part- and full-time workers.

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