Downtown jewelry store, repair shop set to close
By BRANDON KLEIN
Downtown will lose some of its shine this year.
The last two jewelry stores in the central city are going out of business as their owners start the next chapter of their lives with retirement.
The Youngstown Jewelry Repair store, 101 E. Boardman St., will close Friday after serving the Mahoning Valley for 26 years.
Jerry Lee’s Jewelry, 20 W. Federal St., will close at the end of June, after serving the downtown community for nearly 60 years.
“It’s been continuously family-owned since 1958,” said Richard Thomashow, the owner.
Domenic Paolone Jr., owner of Youngstown Jewelry Repair, got his start in the business when he worked for another jeweler, and then attended a school in Jupiter, Fla., to learn more about the trade. The store originally opened in Boardman, which served the community for five years before relocating to downtown.
“I’m going to miss it,” he said.
Paolone said he’s seen the positive transformation and beautification of downtown. But Paolone said the area has shifted to appeal more to a nightlife crowd.
“Retail down here is kind of diminished,” he added.
Paolone said he plans to continue some jewelry work after the store is closed.
“I gotta stay busy,” he said.
Jerry Lee’s Jewelry store was founded by Jerry Lieblich after he bought an existing jewelry store at 230 W. Federal St. after World War II. After Lieblich’s death in 1978, Susie, his daughter, and her husband, Thomashow, took over the store.
Susie recalls how much downtown has changed since the 1960s, when large downtown businesses were still present. The store relocated to its current location inside the former Strouss-Hirshberg Co.-owned department store in the early 1980s. In 1987, the building became the Phar-Mor Centre, headquarters of Phar-Mor Inc., the discount drugstore chain.
“The building was jumping” back then, Susie said.
Phar-Mor ceased operations in 2002, and the building was renamed 20 Federal Place, which is now owned by the city. The store is among the building’s oldest tenants, Richard said.
Sean McKinney, the city’s buildings and grounds commissioner who manages 20 Federal Place, said he’s excited for Richard and his family after serving the community for so long.
The length of time the store’s been around is a “testament to what the downtown and the Mahoning Valley is all about,” he said.
The main reason for the store’s closing is personal, as the owners will move to Portland, Ore., to spend more time with their grandchildren later in the year. Susie said there was no one from either side of the family who wanted the business.
“It’s been a good run,” she said, adding that the experience is “bittersweet” as her father’s legacy comes to an end.
The store will have a “going out of business sale” after April 23.
“It’s going to be weird to not have the store in our lives,” Richard said.