Our Towns

Flags Put New Face on Downtown Sharon

SHARON, Pa. — Michael Lisac is confident he has a big selling point for future tenants of the former Army-Navy Store in downtown Sharon. Big. As in 30 feet by 60 feet.

Those are the dimensions of the American flag Lisac and his employees painted on the western side of the building that Lisac purchased last year.

Lisac is president of Warehouse Sales, a full-service hardware store on West Silver Street he bought 16 years ago. The Army-Navy building is the most recent of five buildings on East State Street that Lisac has acquired over the past eight years, all of which have tenants, excluding the most recent purchase. He declined to disclose how much he paid for the property.

Inspired in part by a song performed by his friend, country singer Chris Higbee, Lisac says he was crossing the bridge downtown about the time he was purchasing the building. If he cut the wider horizontal panels on the building in half, he thought, he would end up with 13 stripes. So he took a photo of the building on his cell phone, printed it, drew a rough sketch and decided it would work.

Painting the flag took a week, he reports. At first he tried to do it alone but decided it was taking too long and enlisted help from employees.

The flag covers half of the western face of the building. The other side displays the logo the city adopted in recent years. “I cut the building in half [which] makes the flag a little bit longer than it should be,” Lisac says.

He was uncertain what to do with the front face until an employee helping him with the painting approached with the idea of hanging the flags of all 50 of the United States. The flags hang in order of their entry into the Union.

“The flag’s really impressive,” remarks Brian Kepple, chairman of the city beautification commission and a member of its economic development commission. “It’s a nice landmark when you come into town and you cross the bridge on State Street. It certainly catches your eye.”

The previous look was “a little bit of an eyesore,” he allows, and the flag was a “clever idea” to resolve the situation.

Lisac is still working on cleaning up the interior of the Army-Navy building. “We do as good as we can as fast as we can,” he says. He has had some inquiries from potential tenants but nothing serious.

He would like a tenant similar to the previous occupant or “some kind of retail store,” he says. “I don’t know what’s going to be available. It’s a large area” – about 18,000 square feet – “so who can handle that much space? So far we’ve been lucky to get good people that have been staying around.”

Lisac also suggests a retailer could start small in the building and expand, or the local artistic community could do something with the space.

“It’s going to be an easy building to say where you’re located,” he notes. Tenants in his other downtown properties include a call center, dance studio, barbershop and several arts-and-crafts- related shops.

Downtown overall is making progress, Lisac says. “It’s going to take time,” he reflects. “I wish it would happen overnight but it’s not going to, and when that happens it doesn’t sustain.”

The owners of other buildings are improving their properties, he points out, something they haven’t done in years.

“It’s coming,” he adds. “It’s going to take a while. It took a long time to go bad but it’s starting to do pretty good.”

Kepple calls Lisac a “remarkable person” and praises his efforts to rehabilitate downtown. The private investment he has made “is something Sharon really is fortunate to have,” he says.

Pictured: Michael Lisac, president of Warehouse Sales hardware store, purchased the building on the corner of E. State Street and Shenango Avenue last year. He and his employees painted the American and 50 state flags as part of cleaning the recently vacated building.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.