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A new St. Vincent de Paul thrift store opens in Boardman

Image of people gathering outside a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store with a "grand opening" banner. Photo by Courtney Poullas.

Tuesday, June 4 was a humid and balmy day in the Mahoning Valley, but that did not stop local residents, community leaders, clergy and parishioners from gathering outdoors to celebrate the grand opening of the new St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, located at 7392 Market Street in Boardman. In the words of Bishop David Bonnar, who was in attendance to bless the store, “It’s a Tuesday in June, and it’s almost eighty degrees, but it seems like Black Friday. There are so many people lined up waiting to get those bargains.”

While they awaited remarks and prayers, several of those eager patrons expressed excitement as they lined the perimeter of the 16,0000-square-foot store that carries a variety of clothing, household items and furniture, books, collectibles and more. 

One of them was Melissa Birmingham, president of the Handel’s Neighborhood Association in Youngstown, who mentioned the positive impact of an additional thrift store in the Boardman/Youngstown area. “It’s in a fantastic location, it’s a huge size, and there are a lot of people in the community [for whom] thrift stores are one of the only affordable ways to get clothing and household goods.”

She also mentioned that a new, bustling business among other empty plaza storefronts has the potential to draw in additional markets and create jobs. “Every time I’d drive past this empty building, I’d think it was such a shame to see an empty building in such a prominent location. Getting this great business here—hopefully the next empty storefront will get filled.”

At 10 a.m., St. Vincent de Paul Mahoning County president Anne Kravitz began the grand opening ceremony with thanks and remarks dedicated to all who support St. Vincent de Paul’s mission and to all who helped make the dream of a new store a reality. “We realized it was going to be a very big challenge, and truly, with the Grace of God and the help of all of you, and many people, we are here.”

Alan Ricks, executive director of St. Vincent De Paul Mahoning County, attributed the operational success of preparing to open the new store to the importance of teamwork. “This is the perfect example of tremendous teamwork by our paid contractors and volunteers. Various other parishes have been involved in this. It really has been a team effort, and an honor for me, to be a part of the process.”

Dresses through a St. Vincent de Paul store window. Photo by Courtney Poullas

Bishop Bonnar began his blessing by fondly recounting his memories growing up alongside the St. Vincent de Paul Society. “Each year, we would gather with all of the local St. Vincent de Paul Societies and have Mass and breakfast with the Bishop, and we would support the efforts of the regional branch of St. Vincent de Paul.”

After a reading and blessing with holy water, Bishop Bonnar closed the service by remarking about the positive impact the new thrift store will have on the community. “This newly established St. Vincent de Paul Society Thrift Store is an answer to prayers. Thanks to the effort of this community, and the parishes within it, this store will be a lighthouse and a beacon of hope for those who find themselves in the deep, and at times desolate, waters of need.”

Members of the St. Vincent de Paul Mahoning County District Council, along with Bishop Bonnar, cut the ribbon and welcomed eager patrons into the store. Customers were greeted by staff and volunteers as they shopped to the tune of a musical quartet comprised of string instruments and piano. 

The faces of volunteers, staff and St. Vincent de Paul council members beamed as aisles and carts filled. Ed Sunseri, a member of St. Luke Parish and a treasurer with St. Vincent de Paul, said he can’t help but smile knowing how much the new thrift store will benefit those in need in the community. “With the rising prices of food and supplies at the soup kitchen downtown, this store will help tremendously in covering the costs with the soup kitchen.”

The St. Vincent de Paul Thrift store operates Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. All purchases support the mission and work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Mahoning County District Council, Inc. which has operated since 1931. 

Visit the St. Vincent de Paul Mahoning County District Council website for more information.

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Courtney Poullas

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