ITHACA, N.Y. — The mayor, the head of the Chamber of Commerce, the executive director and the chair of the board of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance walk into a bar. There’s no punchline; that was simply the setup for the celebration of five new businesses operating in Downtown Ithaca.
The Downtown Ithaca Alliance, in conjunction with the City of Ithaca and the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday afternoon to welcome five new businesses: The Brain Shoppe, IthacaSews, Adrina Dietra, Mama Said Hand Pies and Lucky Hare Brewing’s taproom.
Jennifer Tavares, head of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, said she was happy to see such a variety of businesses starting up downtown.
“You need locally owned small businesses that are offering something different,” she said. “It’s what we need for strength in retail in this community.”
Here’s a rundown of the unique products and services the new businesses offer:
The Brain Shoppe has a new storefront at 210 E. State St., but has appeared on The Commons before as a pop-up in Home Green Home earlier this year. The shop sells brainteaser puzzles, science kits, coding games and other puzzle games meant for all ages. The store is owned by Christopher DelCollo, who also founded Ancient Wisdom Production, an Ithaca-based web design and marketing company. Mayor Svante Myrick praised DelCollo for opening a store that challenges minds.
“It’s such a fitting store for our community,” he said. “Making learning fun and engaging and giving us something to stimulate our minds, it’s healthier than, say, going on Facebook.”
IthacaSews sells and repairs sewing machines and is an authorized dealer for Janome brand sewing machines, which are considered the top-rated machines in the world. The store is owned and operated by Wendy Skinner, who also manages SewGreen. While SewGreen is a not-for-profit organization, Skinner said she felt supported by the city and the DIA in her other business experiences. The shop is located at 112 N. Cayuga St.
This micro-retail store specializes in all things lingerie and lingerie-related. The shop offers both pre-made and custom items as well as alterations to personal pieces. Designs are by Adrina Graham, who writes that her work is inspired by vintage and antique fashions. Her pieces have been showcased on runways and at performances in the region as well as at various pop-up shops around the Northeast. She said opening the store has been her dream since she was a child sewing clothes for her Barbie dolls with old socks. Adrina Dietra is located in Press Bay Alley, 118 W. Green St.
Mama Said Hand Pies creates both sweet and savory hand pies with influences from all over the world. The store began in the Ithaca Farmers Market and now has a permanent location in Press Bay Alley. Husband-and-wife team Gabe Flores and Hiroko Takashima own the shop and produce the pastries. Takashima said the team is grateful to be of the community and is excited to move the business forward in a more consistent way.
Lucky Hare is a brewery based out of Hector, New York, with a new tasting room in Press Bay Alley. The business is run by co-founder Richard Thiel and head brewer Ian Conboy. The Ithaca storefront has four beers on tap, available in three sizes for those looking to sample. The brewery has been featured in local businesses like Ithaca Coffee Company and Agava Restaurant since it opened, but Conboy said they’re excited to have their own space in Ithaca to sell their signature brews. Conboy said he was persistent in attempting to get a storefront in Press Bay Alley and that it’s been fantastic so far.
“We look forward to spending years pouring beers,” Conboy said. “So drink a beer.”
Featured Image: Adrina Graham and Mayor Svante Myrick celebrate the opening of lingerie shop Adrina Dietra. (Becky Mehorter/The Ithaca Voice)