WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Recovery continues for stores at the Arena Hub Plaza after a tornado damaged several retail outlets in June.
Chain-link fencing still closes off part of the Arena Hub shopping center near Wilkes-Barre. Small signs alert customers to the stores that have reopened.
Staples office supply store plans to reopen Saturday.
"It's been a challenge. I will say that," Melissa Blanchard, store manager.
On June 13, a tornado made a direct hit on the strip of stores where Staples is located. Blanchard had to wait three days before looking at the damage.
"And at that point, there was stuff still falling. It was still unsafe, so they let us come in quick to the building, and then we had to stay out until they came to deem the property safe," Blanchard explained.
It took weeks for the store to begin rebuilding damaged sections. Workers spent the last two weeks restocking store shelves.
Most of the store looks ready to open. The shelves look like they did before the tornado, but there are a few empty ones. The store manager says she expects everything to be ready by Saturday's opening.
"The inventory, most of it is here already. We'll maybe have to shop for maybe about 10 percent," said Blanchard.
For the past three months, Blanchard was more than an office supply store manager. She's worked with builders and electricians to fix the damage, reassure regular customers her outlet will reopen, work with other Staples stores to get supplies to fill the shelves, and tidy up for opening day.
"My job as a store manager was to facilitate everything and to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks," Blanchard said.
Come Saturday, Staples will be the latest retailer in this damaged shopping center to reopen as businesses slowly return to normal.