A unique shop on Youngstown's Southside offers a window into the Valley's past.
STORY & PHOTOS
By William D. Lewis
It’s the kind of place you wouldn’t notice unless you stopped for the red light.
Nestled neatly at the corner of East Midlothian and Southern boulevards on Youngstown’s South Side is a unique window into the Mahoning Valley’s past.
A combination antique, second-hand and music shop, Youngstown Vintage resembles a mixture of the TV reality shows “American Pickers,” “Pawn Stars” and “Extreme Hoarders.”
Owner Bill Rupp, 55, a lifelong Valley resident, sums up the adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Thousands of antique items, many of which have connections to the Valley’s history, fill the nooks and crannies of the shop. Nearly every item at Youngstown Vintage has a story, and Rupp isn’t one bit bashful about sharing those stories.
One of his favorites is about the Million Dollar Potato Chip.
In a small box, Rupp has a potato chip with an unusually shaped hole in it. He brings it out when someone is asking way too much for an item.
“I’m asking a million dollars for it, but I’d probably sell it for $10. Everybody thinks their items are worth a million. It gives them a reality check.” Rupp said.
Myriad local historical items are featured at Youngstown Vintage. A 1920s Rayen School football team photo shares space with a 1939 Youngstown phone directory, while a 1937 Vindicator Thanksgiving Day newspaper rests atop a showcase filled with old records.
In addition to buying and selling antiques, Rupp thinks of his shop as a way to preserve the Valley’s history. “In a way, we’re like a museum,” Rupp said.
Among the many items at the shop are musical instruments. Rupp, an amateur musician, also repairs, restores and sells vintage instruments. He also offers music lessons at the shop.
Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Youngstown Vintage opened about five years ago after Rupp retired from a career as a plasterer. The merchandise finds its way to the shelves through a variety of means. People often walk in the door with things for sale. If Rupp thinks an item has value as an antique or a collectible and he can resell it, he buys it.
Sometimes he buys something just because he likes it.
Another source of merchandise is the relationship Rupp has with area demolition companies that contact him when unusual items show up in buildings about to be torn down.
After acquiring this eclectic mixture of merchandise, Rupp has to sell at least some of it, and many items are sold over the counter. Rupp travels to several antique shows across the county every year and also sells his wares online.
Rupp says his wife told him he can be a hoarder at his shop — but he can’t bring the stuff home.