Warren Flea & Farmers Market to Launch Incubator

WARREN, Ohio – The Warren Flea & Farmers Market, nearly four decades old, will expand its offerings with a monthly garage sale beginning in May and launch a private business incubator in September.

Brad Levy announced both initiatives in the former Union Auto Parts building, 540 Main Ave. S.W., site of the incubator. Levy, who founded B&J Perfumes, is the son-in-law of the owner of the flea market, Elizabeth Stein, and co-owner with Stein of the incubator building, next door to the flea market building.

“So many municipalities have tried to revitalize the heart of their cities by bringing markets to their downtown areas and have proven enormously successful,” Levy said, citing the Westside Market in Cleveland and Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. “Under the ownership of Elizabeth Stein, the Warren Flea Market has been a landmark of Warren for almost 38 years and now we are taking it to an entirely new level, hoping to achieve for this city what other markets have done for theirs.”

Beginning May 7 and continuing the first Saturday of each month through Oct. 1, the Warren Flea Market will hold what Levy bills as “Trumbull County’s largest garage sale.” Outside space is available at $5 per spot, unchanged from when the flea market started.

Because “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” the monthly event is “a fantastic opportunity” for people from Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties “to make money from all of their unwanted merchandise that might otherwise be relegated to the trash heap,” he said.

“At the same time, throngs of visitors, looking for a great bargain will be drawn to not only the market but the entire downtown area, and [can] sample all that this city has to offer,” he continued. “It is our hope that these Saturday events will be promoting the entire city.”

The Trumbull County Tourism Bureau is supporting the monthly events through an advertising campaign that “probably places us as one of the top-five advertisers in town,” he remarked.

The second initiative, the incubator, will get underway in September. Called The Flats – named for the former Warren neighborhood where the building stands – the incubator will encourage startups of all kinds and, backers hope, see those businesses remain in the city upon leaving the incubator.

“We know that the trend in job growth is going to be through entrepreneurship, but we have a lack of space for developing businesses,” Mayor Doug Franklin said. “This should address that in a significant way.”

The city provided Levy with in-house technical assistance to address drainage and parking issues, he said.

The building has been vacant nearly eight years. Levy and his mother-in-law bought it about three years ago, Levy said. Since then, he has spent some $800,000 to renovate the 11,500-square-foot structure. That includes all-new electrical work and plumbing.

“We’re very appreciative of Mr. Levy and his family’s investment” in the building, Franklin said, which he described as “previously an eyesore.”

More important, the mayor added, is Levy’s vision to create space for entrepreneurs in the city.

“There has to be a marriage between Mr. Levy’s vision” and agencies in the business community including the Warren Business Exchange, which provides startups with help, and the U.S. Small Business Administration, he added.

In addition to providing space for all types of startups, The Flats will help tenants learn the rudiments of running a business, Levy said.

The Warren Flea Market is “an integral player” to the incubator and vice versa, Levy said, each benefiting from the other, Levy said.

The Flats will begin accepting applications for tenants Sept. 1. They will be available at the flea market during its normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Pictured: Brad Levy and Warren Mayor Doug Franklin.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.