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Salem store closing

Published: Thu, December 23, 2010 @ 12:08 a.m.


The Vindicator (Youngstown)

Gary Abrams, president and chief executive officer of Kolby’s Clothing on East State Street, Salem, poses with some of the items available at his store. The longtime clothing store is closing, due in part to the declining economy, and leaving downtown with few shopping venues.

By D.A. Wilkinson



When businessman Gary Abrams went into the clothing business in 1979, the city’s downtown was “very vibrant.”

“Stores would feed off each other,” he recalled.

Abrams doesn’t think the downtown is so vibrant now.

He and his wife, B.J., are closing Kolby’s, their store at 440 E. State St. The closing was due, in part, to retirement and the weak economy.

“A lot of things have changed [downtown] in the last 10 years,” Abrams said.

Abrams said the city hasn’t had a major chain store as a downtown anchor to draw customers since the early 1990s.

The downtown area roughly runs north and south on Ellsworth and Lincoln avenue and east and west on East Pershing and Second streets.

Glenda Gano, an assistant at Cornerstone Antiques, 508 E. State St., said the city used to have McKelvey’s and Strouss department stores.

And, recalled David Stratton, director of the Salem Historical Society, the city used to have national stores such as Sears.

Now, he added, “The nearest Sears is in Boardman.”

Decades ago, “People were downtown shopping on Friday night,” Abrams said

Over several years, the downtown began to devolve. When large chain stores located in Salem closed – Sears closed its Salem store in January 1993 – people headed for the malls.

“In some cases, chain stores left small stores in Salem with limited products, so people still had to go to the mall in order to get a larger selection from the same store,” Stratton said.

Shopping over the Internet also played a part in the city’s downtown decline.

“With free shipping, you could buy a computer with about anything you wanted and never have to leave your house,” Abrams said. Even his store added a website.

Now much of the downtown is a mix of offices, stores, restaurants and several vacant storefronts.

“Downtown has little for retail because it lost all the shoppers,” Abrams said.

Abrams announced the Kolby’s closing in November, though the store still has plenty of goods for sale.

A woman came in on a recent shopping excursion and told Abrams, “I don’t want to see you close. It’s sad.”

She added, “You’re wonderful people.”

Kirk Hawkins of Beloit stopped to talk to Abrams and said the closing “is a shame.”

Hawkins said that the store owners and workers “got to know you and know your family.”

Helen Hayes, the officer coordinator for the Salem High School Alumni Association that dates to 1883, said that the downtown “is changing, and not for the better. We need more [in the] downtown to get a presence on the street.”

Gano suggested that more antique shops move to Salem to draw customers to the downtown.

Audry Null, executive director of the chamber of commerce, said she believes the problems of the local economy are just a part of the larger, national economic slowdown.

But Stratton said the problem is that many downtown businesses just don’t offer merchandise for sale anymore.

“People who are running errands may pass a number of businesses but don’t have any business with them,” he said.


11970mach1(1005 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

"And, recalled David Stratton, director of the Salem Historical Society, the city used to have national stores such as Sears.

Now, he added, “The nearest Sears is in Boardman."

Actually, the nearest Sears to Salem is in SALEM right next to the new Wedgewood Pizza.

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2casiejstrine(1 comment)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Interesting article! I just now got Coupons of my Favorite Brands for free from "Printapons" you should search for them online

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3steelwagon(284 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

I'v never shopped in Salem due to the distance from where I live.
However I'v always liked a downtown shopping experience much better than going to a huge mall.

I can remember shopping in downtown Warren in the early 70s'.
Back then Warren was a great small city with a thriving business district..
Sadly today it's slightly more than a ghost town.

It's heartbreaking to see what's happened to Main Street America during the last 30-35 years.

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4timOthy(802 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Sorry to see this Bussiness leave. But it's understanding. Salem is headed for SECTION 8 housing! If you don't believe me look around your town.

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5Annette(1 comment)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

For years I did 90 percent of my Christmas shopping downtown Salem. They had some of the most quaint shops, pleasant people, and unique gifts. Unfortunately, most people went to the "big name stores" and the Mom and Pop stores were forced out of business. Now, I give money or gift cards. Very un-unique? Yes! I really miss those shops!

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6cambridge(3451 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Robert_Neville....The link below will take you to the city owned power company of Alameda California. Their power is 80% clean and renewable.


Alameda is an island in the San Francisco bay with a population of more than 70,000 and has been using clean and renewable energy since the 1970's. Sometimes it just takes a few decades for some area's to catch up.

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7Traveler(606 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

@ cambridge
Alamedamp power cost twice what the power cost here in Ohio. The first offshore wind farm in the US (cape wind) about 19 cent a kWh. Compare to 6.3 cent in Ohio thats triple.
What you are purposing with your stand on alternative energy is one side of the extreme and to push in to use a technology that isnt ready for widespread adoption. If Green tech was practicably even with the mass amounts of government subsidized being given it. Power company's wouldn't be building any new coal or natural gas power planets. They are a business and want to make power for as cheap as possible and sell it for as much as possible.

One must understand that just by humans existing on earth that we create pollution its all about what is a accept limit. When you get a drink of water from the tap chemicals where used to clean it for your drinking. When you use the toilet guess what you just contaminated drink water. Dont pass gas because that is made up of methane and sulfur. Methane is a greenhouse gas and sulfur cause acid rain.

At one time we where at the other end of the extreme. In 1969 a river caught on fire the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland. In 1948 a smog in Donora PA killed 20 sickened 600. Now i dont want to go back to a time where we live with our air and water so polluted that it is fatal to breath or drink. But we must balance the needs of industry to sustain a modern life with the needs of our the environment.
My grandfather has lived to be 90 with the aid of modern medical care and A/C. He is retried to Florida if it wasn't for him being able to pay the electric bill to run the a/c the heat would kill him.

I do believe that Solar will eventual play a big part in providing our power. That modern industry (IBM, Intel, Amd) as they work to make computer chips cheaper and of higher quality. That since many of the same process are used in make solar cells that they will drive solar power downward to a rate to make it competitive with coal and natural gases.

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8Traveler(606 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

When you look at cost to make power modern Coal power plants with modern pollution control are the answer for now. Yes they cause pollution but with the new pollution control technology out there it can be keep at acceptive level. The low rates they can sell power at is unbeatable even with government subsides going to wind and solar. When you figure that a small business power bill can run a thousand dollars a month. Look at what that would due if you double it.

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9cambridge(3451 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Traveler....My monthly electric bill is less than $25 a month. If that's twice what I would pay for power that pollutes I will gladly pay it.

Clean renewable energy is relatively new compared to coal and like any new technology the cost are higher at the start and cheaper as the technology is refined. It's called progress.

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10southsidedave(5126 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

I always enjoyed shopping in downtown Salem as a child, one of those friendly places with good memories attached.

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