FORTY FORT — Ronne Kurlancheek remembers standing across Mundy Street in Wilkes-Barre Township on the night of June 13, 2018, and struggling to see what damage her furniture store received from the EF-2 tornado that ripped through the area just a couple hours before.
“It looked like the roof wasn’t where it was supposed to be,” Kurlancheek said Thursday before she cut the ribbon on her new showroom at 145 Welles St. in Forty Fort. “I initially though there was just a little roof damage.”
But when Kurlancheek and her husband, Joel Zitofsky, returned to the scene early the next morning, she could see the devastation.
“The steel beams were all twisted,” she said. “It looked like the tornado went in the front door and out the back. Everything was gone.”
So as Kurlancheek prepared to cut the ribbon on her new store, she smiled knowing that she will continue the family-owned business that began 114 years ago.
“I really like my new location,” she said. “Everybody is so friendly. My neighbors all came by last night to wish me we;;.”
And Kurlancheek paused as she looked around and said something else.
“This is a place where I can feel safe,” she said.
Kurlancheek said her husband gave her a card to mark the grand reopening of the business — Kurlancheek Home Furnishings.
“The card said, ‘from tornado to terrific,’” Kurlancheek said. “I’m delighted to be able to go to work every day and serve my customers.
The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce hosted the ribbon cutting ceremony. Wico van Genderen, Chamber President/CEO, couldn’t resist mentioning the mini-tornado sitting on the customer service counter with a pair of red shoes and a toy “Toto” nearby.
“This is a ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ moment,” van Genderen said, as the song played over the store’s sound system. “Kurlancheek’s has turned a negative into a positive. They are showing that this region is worth investing in and re-investing in.”
Forty Fort Mayor Andy Tuzinski said family-owned businesses are the fabric of small communities.
“These are the businesses that sponsor Little League teams and soccer teams,” Tuzinski said. “It’s good for Forty Fort to have a quality family-owned business like Kurlancheek’s in the town and we hope they are here for many more years.”
Kurlancheek and her 12 employees are settling into the new space after having been displaced from the store on Mundy Street. The store will be open seven days a week — Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Two weeks after the tornado, Kurlancheek opened a temporary space in Edwardsville Gateway Shopping Center.
The new store has 6,000 square feet of showroom space and a large warehouse. Kurlancheek said the new store features an industrial, creative décor, and will have one-of-a-kind pieces, special orders, unique chandeliers and artwork.
Kurlancheek Home Furnishings was founded in Duryea by Jacob Kurlancheek as a mining supply store. After a traveling sales representative asked if he would display furniture on consignment, Jacob was inspired to begin the transition to furniture sales.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.