In less than 50 years the J.C. Penney chain has spread over the country, from the original store, in Hamilton, Missouri, to 1600 outlets today. The author's bias is definitely in favor of the chain operation as the bulwark of American economy and democracy. Penney seemed a typical dry goods merchant, but he had the organizational ability and the imagination to develop this great operation. By creating a unique partnership arrangement he provided for managerial training; later the partnership was converted into a corporation, and today is a gigantic merchandising empire, exercising too much control, perhaps, over everyday lives of everyday Americans. There is discussion of the advantages of chain store operation:- lower prices, more variety, reliability -- but laughs off the disadvantages. A prejudiced approach- an Horatio Alger story- for those in the field.