Vintage culture grows in Youngstown

By Joseph Chapman

Youngstown has a growing vintage clothing culture. Wedgewood Ramps in Austintown hosted the area’s first flea market-style vintage event, called Youngstown Kicks n’ Thrifts, March 27. 

Event organizers and Vintage of 330 owners David Meadows and Michael Jones spoke about how they brought the event into existence. 

“It kind of came about because other bigger cities have a sneaker con, a comic con, a thrift con, but our little town doesn’t have anything. So it’s just like we wanted to bless the community,” Meadows said.

Jones also mentioned the growing community of thrifters and vintage lovers in Youngstown.

“[The community] is not even as little as people say … it was a pretty packed day. It showed some potential that Youngstown has. We’re happy to see people come out like this and leave with a smile,” Jones said.

Tristan Kendall, owner of Meraki Vintage Shop, discussed the differences between selling in person at the event compared to his usual all online business.

“It’s completely different. It’s hard when you’re selling online. Your prices ought to be a little higher with shipping and stuff so [today] I was able to get the deals [and] sell some stuff at reasonable prices which made it easier for my business. I got my name out there giving out some business cards. Everything was great,” Kendall said.

Canyon Cabrera, co-owner of Keystone Clothing in Pennsylvania, compared Youngstown Kicks n’ Thrifts to other vintage events out of state.

“We actually do the event in Pittsburgh called Pittsburgh Pickers. We’ve been doing that for two years now, out of the three years it’s been going. What we like to do is bring up a ‘fill a bag’ and people just love it because you can get good deals. But today, it’s been great. It’s been nonstop business pretty much just — meeting people, networking people,” Cabrera said.

As Vintage of 330 grows, so does its relationships with other vintage sellers. From part-time entrepreneurs to complete businesses, Vintage of 330 has a chain of vendors to gather clothes from. This allows Meadows and Jones to focus on more aspects of their business than just curation. Meadows spoke about the selling community and the platform Vintage of 330 has access to.

“It makes life easier, that I can say. To be able to have more of a community that we can connect with and get better prices —  just expand [more] rather than having to thrift, to having to go to these places in search for clothes,” Meadows said. “Now that we have this platform, it’s in our fingertips, all these guys that are in there. We’re looking at two guys right now that I buy off all the time. I bought off both of them today. It’s just a big collective of us all scratching each other’s back.”

Meadows also discussed patrons’ hesitancy to bring in their own clothes to trade with Vintage of 330 and the other vendors in attendance.

“You don’t have to be scared. I’ve had so many people today be like, ‘Should I bring my stuff in? Should I show him? Should I do this? Should I do that?’” Meadows said. “This is the most welcoming [community] that you can think of in the world. Everyone’s here to buy, sell and trade constantly. It’s just love the second you walk in the doors.”

Jones spoke about the great pride he feels in the work he does and how much he enjoyed having a big crowd for Vintage of 330’s first-ever event.

“The more and more we get bigger, the more and more our dreams come true. They just get better and better every day. Every day, we get to do something like this and we call it work. We never take it for granted,” Jones said. “[We get to provide] somewhere cool for people to come in and hang out and just do stuff like this. I mean, I didn’t even know personally that there were this many kids in our area or even just people, period, that are into shoes and clothing, and I’m mind blown.”