One of my memories of growing up in Youngstown was Saturday morning trips to the Consolidate Warehouse in downtown Youngstown. It was located on the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and West Commerce Street, what is now the site of the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and Jail. As you can see from the ad above, the building closest to Fifth Avenue was a six floor cube, connected by what looks like a two-story building and a third three-story building where loading docks were located. The downtown store also had a tire and paint sales facility across the street behind the downtown fire station.
As I recall, dad usually went there for whatever supplies he needed for household jobs–paint, tools, hardware, seal coat for the driveway, caulk–you name it. Mom usually gave him a list of cleaning supplies that often sold for better prices than at the local grocery. As their ad said “we are never undersold.” It was kind of an overwhelming place–you could find school clothes, casual clothes, work clothes, personal care items, appliances, automotive supplies, and garden supplies. It was the closest thing we had to Walmart. Sears was a pricier version. K-Mart, Almart, Montgomery Ward, Woolco, and Walmart were all in the future.
Eventually Consolidated opened stores, under the name Consolidated Discount Stores, at 5635 South Avenue, where Petiti’s Garden Center is located, and at 1729 S. Raccoon Rd, in the Wedgewood Plaza. Later on, they opened a store in Salem and after the downtown store closed in the early 1980’s, there was a store for a few years in the McGuffey Mall on the East side. This no longer appeared in their ads by 1984. Obviously these stores as well as the downtown store are long gone. I could not find information about when they finally went out of business. I suspect the buying power of the national stores who came into the area led to their closure.
Consolidated was way ahead of the times. In a way, it was the “proof of concept” for all these other stores. It wasn’t fancy. It was a warehouse. My memory is that it wasn’t brightly lit. It was no frills. It didn’t need to be. All that mattered for my parents was good prices. As far as I know, they were not undersold!
To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!