WHEELING - For the better part of a generation, hearing the words "department store" and "Wheeling" uttered in the same sentence meant listening to someone wax nostalgic about a bygone era.
That all changes soon, when the national department store chain Peebles opens its newest location in the Friendly City, at the Warwood Shopping Plaza.
A grand opening is planned for 9 a.m. Thursday. The store is located near Kroger in space formerly occupied by True Value Hardware. Among its offerings will be men's and women's apparel, accessories, beauty products, jewelry, electronics and housewares.
PEEBLES ON THE WAY— The Warwood Shopping Plaza sign along state Route 2 heralds the arrival of a Peebles department store, slated for a Thursday grand opening.
-- Ian Hicks
This past Monday was the first day of orientation for employees in preparation for the opening, and the first shipments of merchandise were expected last Tuesday. The store will employ more than 30 people to start, with the potential for more depending on sales, according to District Manager Randy Kriegel.
"We expect it to do very well," he said.
Though it's just one of many neighborhoods in Wheeling, Warwood - with its own schools, grocery stores, high-rise apartment complex and park - has the feel of being its very own small town. That was apparent to Kriegel the first time he visited the location, making it the perfect fit for a company that's found its niche in bringing department stores to small to mid-sized communities, he said.
"It's a section of the community that's underserved," Kreigel said of Warwood. "It's our goal to be here when someone needs something after work."
Among those looking forward to shopping at Peebles is Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge, who represents Warwood on City Council. She's enjoyed shopping at the store's locations in Moundsville and New Martinsville and believes it will provide a welcome alternative to traveling to the Highlands or St. Clairsville.
"As people get older, they don't like to drive in all this traffic on the interstate. ... I'm excited, and I know I'm not the only one," Delbrugge said.
Now that Peebles is coming to town, Delbrugge can cross "department store" off her wish list for her neighborhood. She noted she'd also like to see a new hardware store, a laundromat and a sit-down restaurant in Warwood in the near future.
Kriegel said there are still some employment openings available, and anyone interested is welcome to stop by the Warwood store location and apply weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"If the lights are on, come on in and say, 'Hi,'" he said.
Peebles' parent company, Houston-based Stage Stores Inc., operates more than 800 stores in 40 states under five trade names, including Bealls, Goody's, Palais Royal and Stage.
The Warwood Peebles will be the first of two new department stores set to open in the area. Boscov's, which operates more than 40 stores in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware, will open its newest location at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville on Oct. 13.