Workers from Fieseler Neon Sign attach the Barnes & Noble sign to the facade of the South Main Street building Tuesday as the bookseller prepares to open a store that will serve college students and the public.Times leader staff photo/pete g. wilcox
WILKES-BARRE – It was a sign of better times ahead for the downtown Tuesday morning when workmen from Fieseler Neon Sign company installed the Barnes & Noble name on the façade of the Innovation Center@Wilkes-Barre building on South Main Street.
The display includes signs for King’s College and Wilkes University, which formed Joint Collegiate Bookstore, LLC, to lease the space from the Greater Wilkes-Barre Development Corp. Barnes & Noble will sublease the space and has a separate operating agreement with the two schools to provide bookstore services.
Watching the signs go up was “about as symbolic as anything I’ve seen occur” in the downtown, said Kristopher Jones, president of pepperjam, which is quartered on the third floor of the building.
Beth Savage opened her Vacation Station travel agency a few doors from the bookstore site nine years ago. But years before that she would take a bus from her Dallas home to hang out with friends at Woolworth’s lunch counter, in the store that occupied the Barnes & Noble space until it closed in 1994.
The building remained empty until 2004 when the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry transformed it into a combination business incubator and retail space.
“I think it’s pretty exciting in up-and-coming Wilkes-Barre,” she said. “It seemed like the movie theater was the start of it all. I’m looking forward to what else is coming.”
She’s also eager to sip a Starbucks coffee for the first time. Like the Barnes & Noble in the Arena Hub Plaza, the downtown bookstore will include a Starbucks café.
Savage expects more people in the downtown will be a boost for her office. “I do get some walk-in business. Anything else that opens here could only be a help.”
The bookstore, which will be open to the public, will occupy the first and lower levels of the building. Textbooks, school supplies and dormitory necessities will be sold on the lower level. The ground floor will feature general trade books, a local authors’ section and a spirit shop that sells King’s and Wilkes clothing and logo items as well as the cafe.
A grand opening is expected the week of Oct. 16.
“I think it’s pretty exciting in up-and-coming Wilkes-Barre. It seemed like the movie theater was the start of it all. I’m looking forward to what else is coming.”