Outside JCPenney's Dallas stores on Monday, shoppers showed little concern about a change at the top.
"As long as we have some good deals, that's all we care about," said Sanjay Gangaih.
Shopper Lamar Howard agreed that cost matters most. "It's all about the price, taking care of your family, getting the best deal, best bargain," he said. "That's what consumers want."
But consistency matters too, said SMU Cox School of Business Marketing Professor Edward Fox. And perhaps that's where JCPenney's ousted CEO Ron Johnson went wrong.
That message was delivered with brutal honesty by JCPenney's largest shareholder and member of the board of directors, Bill Ackman.
"There've been some big mistakes, and I think one of the big mistakes was perhaps too much change, too quickly," he told Reuters during an interview.
Ackman called the last year under Johnson "something very close to a disaster."
That was said on Friday. Ron Johnson left Monday, replaced by former Penney CEO Mike Ullman.
"To me the big question is, 'What do they do now?'" Fox asked. He said people believe the concept Johnson tried to implement was interesting and potentially profitable, but "there was too much to do in too short of a time."
The hardest part was trying to continue to keep stores open, operating, and profitable while completely redesigning the product.
Fox said Ullman returns to the executive office at a very difficult time, in the middle of a major concept change. He envisions sales and coupons will be coming back so customers do, too.
"I think we'll all see some e-mails welcoming us back," Fox said. "Because how do you get back the customers who you essentially told, 'The stuff you value, that's not what we're gonna do anymore'?"
Fox said customers will likely be skeptical.
JCPenney stores are going to continue to operate, he said. "They're not going to close their doors. They may close some stores, but it will be really interesting to see what they do with the newly-remodeled stores," Fox said.
That brought a sigh of relief to Lamar Howard. "I love JCPenney! I don't want them to go anywhere!"