When it comes to the economic impact of COVID-19, I usually find myself more concerned with locally owned small businesses than I do the big guys. After all, I have friends in the Central Texas community who own businesses and pour their hearts and souls into them. I see how hard they work first-hand and I'm invested.

That said, it's always sad to see bigger companies that were a staple of my childhood forced to shut down entirely or close hundreds of stores. Those companies employ friends and neighbors too, and if you were a kid in the heyday of mall culture, you spent a lot of time in places like JC Penny.

The company's had its fair share of woes in recent years, competing with online retailers while maintaining its physical stores. The pandemic shutdowns definitely didn't help, and the company recently announced that it would be closing locations nationwide.

For now, the locations in Temple and Killeen are not among them.

In a media release, JC Penny Company, Inc. said it "has taken the first step in implementing its store optimization strategy". Further steps could include more store closures.

For now, the only JC Penny locations closing in Texas are in Dallas, Greenville, Huntsville, Lewisville, Lufkin, Palestine, and Paris.

My heart goes out to the employees of those stores, as well as the regular customers who, in some cases, may not have easy access to online shopping, even with JC Penny.

I definitely have a nostalgic soft spot for the company, and I'm also not too keen on the idea of all brick and mortar stores shuttering. There are times I want to browse an actual store, try things on, and talk to a live person when I need help or advice.

But hey, if there's one thing Americans have proven to be great at time and again, it's finding ways to turn economic downturns into opportunities, so who knows? JC Penny may bounce back in creative ways, or a new business may rise to take its place.

Still, I hate to see these stores close.