WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) The pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to so many businesses and the communities where they exist. Slowly but surely, local business districts are once again seeing signs of life.
Wilkes-Barre Township stores, which were idled for months, began reopening May 29th when Luzerne County went from red to yellow phase in the state’s reopening plan.
The latest store here at Arena Hub Plaza opened today as the township’s business district bounces back. It may look like something you would see on Black Friday. But on this late spring day, it’s actually a line of more than 100 customers waiting their turn to enter T.J. Maxx. After being shuttered for three months, the department store finally reopened at 10 A.M.
“One person can come in,” said a worker.
Pandemic safety precautions limits the store to 120 people causing the long wait.
“Me and my friends figured there’d be a line and we should get there a little early and so we got here around 8:30 and there was already a line,” said Joanna Aguirre, a shopper from Wilkes-Barre.
Victoria Vespico has been keeping an eye on when she might be able to shop again at the popular store.
“I follow the news. I fact check everything and as soon as I heard T.J. Maxx was opening up, I looked into everything about it,” she said.
“People are anxious to get back out to the stores and do some shopping,” said Tom Zedolic, Zoning & Code Enforcement Officer of Wilkes-Barre Township.
They’ll be able to do that again Friday afternoon at Pier 1—only it’s to start a going out of business sale announced during the COVID crisis. There are other business casualties in the township, including the restaurant Bob Evans which permanently closed during the pandemic. The future of that site is uncertain.
“Nobody from Bob Evans contacted me at all,” said Zedolic.
As for rumors that a new Panera Bread would no longer be built at Wilkes-Barre Township Commons, that’s all they are- rumors.
“They told the contractor to hold off until late fall or early spring,” said Zedolic.
Meanwhile, construction work is underway on a new Dollar Tree store at the Commons- another sign of rebirth in this bustling business district.
“We’re still here and things are growing so think positive,” said Zedolic.
Zedolic tells us that construction work on a new hotel will begin next week behind Mohegan Sun Arena.
He also said construction plans are moving forward along Wilkes-Barre Township Boulevard for a new McDonald’s, a new Burger King, and a new Turkey Hill convenience store and car wash.