By Bill O’Boyle, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Swoyersville resident Ruthann Rudick was browsing through Boscov’s on Tuesday afternoon when she ran into employees eager to hear what she thought of the store’s renovations.
Al Boscov, the store patriarch and corporate chairman, and his nephew, Jim, vice chairman and chief executive officer of the 44-store chain, were in town with a large group of Boscov’s buyers to assess the inventory and check out the more than $1 million remodeling project, which began in April of last year.
Rudick, who said she shops at the store frequently, had nothing but good things to say about Boscov’s new look, and Al and Jim were all ears.
“It looks so much better,” Rudick said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Rudick raved about the spacious aisles, the brighter lighting and the overall freshened appearance of the four-level downtown department store.
“You can walk through easily,” she said. “It’s not cramped like it used to be. It’s so much nicer to shop here now.”
After listening to Rudick’s compliments, Jim Boscov said, “And we didn’t pay her to say all that.”
The Boscovs will return to Wilkes-Barre on Saturday for the start of the store’s grand re-opening celebration. Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George will be hand for a proclamation.
“The store looks great,” Al Boscov said as he stopped to chat with customers and employees while assessing the store’s inventory.
Jim Boscov said this renovation project won’t cover all the improvements planned for the store his uncle purchased in 1980.
“We plan to install new restroom facilities on the first floor, and we will remodel the other restrooms in the store,” Jim said. “And we plan to make improvements to the parkade, but we can’t say when that will begin.”
Workers were replacing ceiling tiles on the canopy at the store entrance on South Main Street on Tuesday, and more work was being done throughout the store in preparation for Saturday’s grand re-opening.
“Everything is brighter and more organized,” Jim Boscov said. “And whenever a store gets a fresh look like this, business increases.”
Carrie Jurchak, of Scranton, has worked for Boscov’s since 1998. She worked at the Wilkes-Barre store and now is part of the renovation team.
“This is amazing,” she said of the renovations. “It looks like a brand-new store.”
Larry Newman, executive director of the Diamond City Partnership, a group dedicated to the revival of downtown Wilkes-Barre, stopped to talk with Jim Boscov.
“This renovation project is a fantastic vote of confidence for the downtown,” Newman said. “It’s great that Wilkes-Barre still has a free-standing, four-level department store in the downtown.”
Jim Boscov said he and his uncle are impressed with the city’s downtown.
“We were very pleased to see how the downtown looks as we drove through,” Jim said.