Reid Curtis opened (Mid)Western Second Hand in November of 2020 in downtown Somerset.

Celebrating and selling Western-style and culture at (Mid)Western Second Hand

By Mike Ryan, OCJ field reporter

In 2003, Reid Curtis was looking for a place to live a quieter, more slow-paced life in rural Ohio that had open spaces and a close-knit community where he could raise some farm animals, in contrast to the environs of Columbus that he was leaving. He found Somerset.

With its quaint downtown featuring centuries-old buildings, brick sidewalks, and a statue of Civil War General and native son Philip Sheridan in the town center, the village of Somerset, nestled on the northern edge of Appalachia, was a perfect place to settle in and then later establish his business.

Coming from a high intensity retail work environment which he had been enmeshed in for decades, Curtis needed a change in work and lifestyle when he moved to Perry County and then opened (Mid)Western Second Hand in November of 2020 in downtown Somerset. His past experiences prepared him for running his own retail store and informed his philosophy for the store.

“I have a total of 36 years of experience in retail. Twenty-five years of that time was spent with corporate retailing. My life was travel, stress, anxiety, organizational restructures, etc. I wanted out desperately. I wanted to do my own thing and I felt that I had absorbed enough skills in my years with big business to pull this new business off successfully. Selling second-hand products was very important to me, as I had witnessed years and years of apparel waste. I also wanted the shop to have a theme. I didn’t want it to be your typical thrift store. Environment and mood, a clear focus, and cleanliness and order were all store qualities important to me, and Western wear was a natural fit for this idea,” Curtis said. “After driving around the state for years looking for my ideal place to land, I discovered Perry county, and Somerset specifically. Somerset is a small town with a small-town feel. The village has such kind, welcoming people and great charm and history. Architecturally, it feels like a step back in time and the downtown had the perfect vacant building for my dream. I truly feel like the stars aligned. Once you step into my shop, I hope you feel like it has been here for 100 years and that it just belongs.”

And, indeed, Curtis is personally connected with the other local businesses of Somerset and is actively involved with and supportive of several community groups. 

“Over the years I have developed connections with virtually all the local business owners. We all want to succeed and we need each other to do that. Our village is small, but we see visitors from all over the place and we need to have unique dining and shopping experiences to ensure our village remains a destination. Supporting our horticulture club, the local public schools, and the county fair and our 4-H kids are my biggest passions,” Curtis said.

Now, those in need of a special Western shirt for show season or a gift for that hard-to-buy-for cowboy, have a unique southeast Ohio option. (Mid)Western Second Hand specializes in selling high quality, lightly used Western apparel and merchandise. Curtis now operates it with the help of his sales associate Sylvia Thatcher. 

“At (Mid)Western, our goal is to offer top quality Western apparel for the entire family. We sell iconic Western brands such as Tony Lama, Stetson, Resistol, Nocona, Ariat, Wrangler, Panhandle Slim, Roper, Scully, and Cinch. These are just a few of the brands we carry. All of our products are checked thoroughly to ensure no flaws and each item is laundered prior to hitting the shop floor. In addition to apparel, we also sell accessories like belts and belt buckles and we have a wide selection of cowboy hats and cowboy boots. I also sell jewelry, vintage western albums — and record players to play them on — home decor, and several branded items, like candles, caps, and t-shirts, that are made locally,” Curtis said.

A cowboy hat is a Western wear essential.

Curtis’ store has an entire room devoted to youth-sized Western garments and accessories and is an excellent asset for families looking for “just the right” show essentials for their young showmen at reasonable prices.

“We offer everything for kids that we do for adults. We sell youth-sized cowboy boots, cowboy hats, jeans, Western tops. Sizes depend on what I find on my buying trips. Children’s Western is a much more difficult category to find on my shopping journeys, so inventory can fluctuate. I try to be set up with youth wear as much as I can be for the summer fair and show season,” Curtis said. 

Curtis travels throughout the country in search of this quality Western gear. He spends much of his time on buying trips to the American West where he finds his desired merchandise, which he then washes and sends back to the Somerset storefront. But he also comes across a lot of products closer to home.

“We find our product in a few different ways. I focus my time on traveling the United States, identifying the states that I can most easily find great brands, great quality, great prices, and quantity. Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, and New Mexico tend to be my goldmines. I then launder the product and ship it back to the shop in Ohio, where my associate, Sylvia, prices, photographs, and merchandises the product on the shop floor. She and I are on the phone constantly. ‘What do we need? What don’t we need? What are customers asking for?’” Curtis said. “We also resource products from our customers. Almost daily, someone walks in the shop with a bag or box full of product they would like to sell to us. I am an apparel hunter, so nothing is out of bounds when searching for the best product for the shop; for instance, I sometimes come across unique items at auctions, estate sales, and garage sales.” 

While the travel can be long and tedious, and the search for second-hand goods that meet his exacting standards can often be unproductive, Curtis feels greatly rewarded when he tracks down original items that fit into his shop’s aesthetic, and part of the pleasure of his job is hooking appreciative, excited customers up with hard-to-find and one-of-a-kind products.

“As someone who spends all of their time searching for second-hand Western wear, I can tell you, it isn’t easy. Buying trips can last for days, with very little to show for it. I get a lot of joy when I find the perfect item for the shop. I also love to pull it all together in the shop to tell a story. Display and merchandising are huge passions of mine. But the best is when a customer finds that perfect, unique item that they have been looking for forever,” Curtis said.
A trip into (Mid)Western is an immersive experience in American cowboy culture, where customers can enjoy two floors of Western art, decor, and fashion, all set in a storefront reminiscent of the Wild Western frontier. The folks at (Mid)Western are passionate about their work, their products, and the brick-and-mortar businessfront that allows them to best connect with their customers.

(Mid)Western is located at 105 West Main Street in Somerset and is open 11-6 Thursday- Saturday and 12-5 Sunday. They can be reached via phone at (740) 836-3078. Their website is mid-western.com, and they can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. 

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