McDowell’s Flea Hosts Community Creativity

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – During business trips to other cities, Derrick McDowell often visited makers markets that showcased the work of local artists and artisans.

He decided to launch such a market in his own hometown, and Youngstown Flea was born.

“I always held the belief that we have that [creativity] here, and they just may not have the place to gather,” says McDowell. “I set out to find the most centralized place I could.”

He secured a location in the parking lot next to Covelli Center on East Front Street and presented his monthly markets there for several years.

“It’s been a wonderful journey,” says McDowell. “We have partnered with many brands, faces and makers, which we love.”

In the fall of 2020, McDowell purchased the 25,000-square-foot former Northeast Fabricators building on East Boardman Street, downtown, and moved the Flea there.

Each market has between 75 and 90 vendors, and attracts about 2,000 shoppers, he says.

“The community support continues to grow year after year,” McDowell says. “What keeps me going is a love for the city of Youngstown. I have a passion to see this city thrive and this is just one piece of the puzzle.”

The Youngstown Flea has been a way to give back to the community, McDowell says. His goal is to serve as a “micro-incubator” for small businesses in a town that faces many economic challenges.

“If Youngstown Flea can play a pivotal role in supporting that, then that drives me all day long to continue,” says McDowell. “The love I have for this city compels me and if I didn’t have a community to serve, I would find one.

“Without community we are nothing.”

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Pictured at top: Derrick McDowell

Editor’s Note: This company story was produced in conjunction with ihe Western Reserve Transit Authority’s “Give Small Business a Lift Campaign.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.