It was an unfamiliar yet welcome sight on the south side of Coddingtown Mall Friday morning: at 9:30 a.m., a line of more than 200 shoppers snaked around the sidewalk waiting for the newly remodeled JCPenney store to open its doors.

The main draw for the crowd was the new Sephora shop, which opened inside the JCPenney store, and the free cosmetics bags JCPenney gave out to the first 450 customers on Friday. The first 50 bags contained gift certificates worth $5 to $100, said Mike Gobble, store manager.

"People were waiting outside since 5 a.m.," Gobble said.

The buzz coincided with the near-completion of a $4 million, 8-month renovation project paid for by JCPenney. The remodeled space has a new floor layout, escalators, fitting rooms, restrooms and lighting, and wider aisles.

The 2,000-square-foot Sephora shop, located on the first floor, sells cosmetics and fragrance lines made by NARS, Smashbox, Bare Escentuals, Philosophy, Dior, DKNY and Sephora. Nine new employees were hired to staff the shop, Gobble said, which is the first Sephora in Sonoma County.

"It's a new day at JCPenney," Gobble said to the crowd. "We were able to showcase our brands and styles in a whole new way."

Ellen Govan of Santa Rosa, who showed up with her two teenage daughters around 9 a.m., was pleased to get a coveted number 44. "I was surprised we didn't have to wait longer," Govan said.

Belinda Allison, 52, made the early trip from Guerneville to shop with her friends.

"JCPenney is my favorite store to shop in, my credit card can attest to that," Allison said. "I'm so happy they've remodeled the store. It's good for Coddingtown."

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