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Youngstown activist sells pieces of city's past

Published: Fri, July 27, 2012 @ 12:08 a.m.


Phil Kidd, who owns and operates Youngstown Nation, a nonprofi t consignment store on North Phelps Street in downtown Youngstown, says business has been steady since the store opened July 7. Kidd is selling rare and historic items from Youngstown, as well as T-shirts and other gifts.

By Jamison Cocklin



In March, when a small space, really no bigger than a dining room, opened up on North Phelps street in downtown Youngstown, local activist Phil Kidd saw an opportunity to sell pieces of the city’s past.

It took him nearly four months, but on July 7, his boutique-style consignment shop, Youngstown Nation, opened.

“It’s a value add to have something like this in our community,” Kidd said. “People love this stuff, and these things are all over out there. I wanted to put them all in a one-stop venue.”

Those things are many, from old photos and books, to postcards and city maps dating back to the turn of the 20th century and before.

The catch comes with the way Kidd has established his business. It’s incorporated as a nonprofit, and nearly all the proceeds from the store go back to causes throughout the community.

“It’s just me right now, that’s how I am doing this,” Kidd said in explaining his low overhead and rent for the space, which costs him $200 per month.

To acquire the items to sell at Youngstown Nation, Kidd put a call out on social media for donations. He also scoured eBay for rare merchandise.

Just one of the organizations with items on consignment in the shop is the Youngstown Steel Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the history of steel in the Mahoning, Shenango and Ohio River valleys. Proceeds from the T-shirts and old books highlighting the history of steel in the valleys will go to the foundation.

The display windows at the shop are lined with early 20th century Bessemer bricks, forged at a factory in Bessemer, Pa. At one point, the bricks were used as street pavers on Youngstown’s South Side.

Kidd also has historical postcards depicting the Tod Hotel at Central Square from 1911. Board-of-education directories also are on hand, listing all the teachers working in the city during 1912.

City maps are for sale from 1870, and a small replica of Stambaugh Stadium at Youngstown State University sits on the shelf behind the register. Most of the items being sold at the store are under $30.

In all, Kidd said Youngstown Nation has seen a “steady” stream of customers since it opened. Going forward, he said he would like to establish a grant program with funds from the store going to help artists and others create unique products to be sold in the shop.

Kidd also is considering an internship program for business students attending YSU who want to learn the ins and outs of running a small business.

“Things have really been picking up downtown lately, and I thought this was just the right time to do this,” he said.

Hopefully, Kidd added, if the store does well enough, he can expand on his idea and move into a bigger space in order to better accommodate all the memorabilia the city has to offer.


1bmanresident(607 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

What's with all of the newer businesses not bein able to get started without a donation? Look at the Lemon Grove, all donated money and government grants, and now this place. But these same folks call a baulk on the republicans for giving tax incentives to oil companies.

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2misterlee(118 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

I think you would agree that there is a big difference between individuals choosing to help a small business get started with their own money and the government basically giving taxpayer dollars back to huge corporations that are already making BILLIONS in profit, right? Besides, doesn't every small business need to get money from somewhere to get started? What does it matter to you if people decide to donate their money to helping a business they'd like to see in their community?

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3saddad(647 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Bmanresident's need to be negative everyday got in his way of understanding the article. See where it says "nonprofit"! Wow.

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4kensgirl(925 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

What a great store!! I'm glad someone had the idea to start this project! We need to remember the great past of Youngstown. I commend Mr. Kidd for this effort and I soon will be shopping there. Great presents also for the younger generation who want to know some Y-town history!

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5ytownsteelman(674 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Phil is hardly getting rich off of this venture. The products he sells for others is done with no commission, his only income from this is from the markup on products that he developed an also sells in the store. This is a great asset for Youngstown.

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6southsidedave(5166 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Best of luck Phil Kidd!

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