ITHACA, N.Y. — The Downtown Ithaca Alliance is encouraging residents to shop local and support some of the 150 local stores and restaurants in Downtown Ithaca this weekend. Local shops are offering lots of deals and parking is free downtown until Sunday night.

Friday in Downtown Ithaca is “Plaid Friday” — an alternative event to the lines at big box stores, meant to highlight the local goods and services available in the community. Visitors can find handcrafted items by local artists, specialty goods and all sorts of gifts for the holidays. Shoppers can show their support for local businesses by wearing plaid Friday, Nov. 29.

For a list of local shops offering discounts, visit the Facebook event page.

The rush at big retail stores on Black Friday has declined in recent years as online shopping has become more popular, especially on Cyber Monday. But, in general, sales remain strong, and the holiday season is a critical time for businesses, especially small ones.

• Related: Two years after near closure, Ithaca’s community-owned bookstore is ‘thriving’

Downtown Ithaca has more than 150 independently owned and operated stores and restaurants and the Downtown Ithaca Alliance is encouraging local residents to shop and eat local this weekend for Small Business Saturday.

“When money is spent at (an) independent locally owned business the money stays here. Local businesses donate more, and the owners and managers live and pay taxes here, strengthening the economic base of where we live. Plus the one-of-a-kind businesses contribute to the character of our community with unique shopping and dining options,” the DIA said in a news release.

To incentivize shopping downtown this weekend, parking is free until Sunday night on the streets and in the parking garages. Metered parking resumes Monday morning.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.