After Nearly 50 Years, Silver’s Downtown is Closing

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – During a trip to the grocery store on a Friday, Barry Silver, owner of Silver’s Vogue Shop, saw an elderly couple back by the meat department and decided to say hello.

“I said ‘Hi’ to the gentleman, he looked at me and he didn’t know who I was, and I remembered his wife Bertha,” Silver says. “So, I said, ‘How are you Miss Bertha?’ and they said, ‘Do we know you?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I’m from Silver’s downtown. You’ve shopped with us for years.’ ”

The gentleman started reminiscing with Silver about the times he bought suits at long-time downtown men’s clothing shop, Silver recalls.

“We talked for a few minutes and he was amazed I remembered him,” he says. “On Monday morning, he showed up in the store with his wife. He felt compelled to buy something because he was older and he wanted to get a suit for church and maybe to be buried in because he was in his 90s.”

Youngstown has been good to Silver, who will be closing his store sometime before March 2020, he says. After 49 years of serving the city, he believes it’s time.

“I’m going out with a good note,” Silver says. “The store has been good to me, I made a very good living all my life.”

Silver’s Vogue Shop has been a downtown fixture for nearly 50 years.

Silver hired Daniel Durkin, a sales associate with Mayo Realtors, to represent him selling the building at 27 W. Federal St. Durkin has gotten to know Silver through the process and he has done an “unbelievable job” in the downtown area, he says.

“He’s experienced a whole lot of families and people in and out as I’ve been there the last couple months on different occasions showing his building,” Durkin relates. “He gets buyers coming back from the Pittsburgh area and the Cleveland area who have been involved with him over the years.”

The building is being sold for $599,000. People who have shown interest in the building believe it’s an outstanding downtown location, according to Durkin. Most people have looked at it from the standpoint of a restaurant, night club type of place, he says, and they are coming in from Pittsburgh, New York and Cleveland.

There is also a possibility that someone from Canada will be taking a look at the building, Durkin says. It’s drawn a lot of interest and hopefully, sooner rather than later, someone will buy it, he.

As a supporter of Youngstown, Silver has been a “great, strong person,” Durkin says. Silver could have abandoned the store many times when the downtown area was not close to what it is now.

“Barry stood the test of time,” Durkin says. “He’s been a strong advocate of that downtown area and I think he’s at that point where he’s ready to move on and let someone else have an opportunity.”

Silver doesn’t complain about business and believes he could continue with his success for another three years, but at his age, he wants to start a new chapter. Other than family, Silver has given his store 100% of his time, he says.

Silver’s specializes in dress clothes, hats and shoes for men.

In 1970, Silver’s uncle was closing his downtown clothing store. Upon closing, He called his parents, the late Phyllis and Larry Silver, and asked if they wanted to go into the retail business,. At the time, Silver was in high school and his parents thought it was a good idea, he said.

“We opened the store and we’ve been here ever since,” Silver says.

At first, Silver’s family operated the store at 102 W. Federal St. It was a small, just nine feet wide and 40 feet deep. In 1978, the building came available.

When his family moved into the building, the street in front of the store was closed, Silver said, in its place a pedestrian plaza. That’s when the name of the street was changed to Federal Plaza West, he said.

“They had fountains in front of us and all kinds of pedestrian traffic,” Silver said as he recalled what it was like working in Youngstown back in the day. “That didn’t fare too well with traffic, so after a few years they tore it out.”

During the steel mill days, many people spent their time downtown shopping, Silver recalls. When General Motors opened its Lordstown plant, auto workers were frequent customers as well.

Even with the mills and the downtown department stores closing, Silver’s Vogue Shop attracted a following of shoppers who still come to the store.

“They come in and they spend their hard-earned money and they buy what they need. They brought their kids and some of them brought their grandkids in,” he says.

The shop has always sold dress clothes, hats and shoes, and the style hasn’t changed much, Silver said. When the store entered his life, Silver was a sophomore at Boardman High School and it was a gamble for his parents, he says.

“It’s not like I grew up thinking I want to be a fireman. I grew up thinking I’ll see what happens.”

Silver and his mother were the first ones to run the shop. At the time, his dad didn’t see the potential,. But, after six months, Silver’s dad quit his management position at an insurance company to join them full time.

“They had a chance for an opportunity and they took it,” Silver says. “It didn’t cost much in those days. You paid the rent for a building and you filled it with inventory and, hopefully, the inventory sold.”

In his retirement, Silver plans to travel the United States to visit some of the national forests and to spend time with his family.

“I have a grandson at The Ohio State University and two granddaughters in high school. I’d like to see them grow.”

Pictured above: Silver’s family took over the shop in 1970. He started helping his mother run the shop while he was still in high school.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.