ITHACA, N.Y. — After nearly 40 years of business, 15 STEPS owners Bettsie Park and Ken Jupiter announced on Tuesday that they are retiring next month.
Park and Jupiter started 15 STEPS in 1982 with 21 artists, selling high quality, handcrafted fiber, glass, wood, pottery, and an extraordinary collection of jewelry produced by American artisans. They were both craftspeople at the time and their shops’ first location was on the second floor of a mercantile building four blocks from downtown. To get to the business, customers had to walk up 15 steps, hence the shop’s name.
“It’s a long time, but it has been worth it to see 15 STEPS grow into a thriving business, supporting 165 artists, many who have been with the store over 30 years. We are proud to have been part of the Ithaca community and proud to have supported the many creative craftspeople we carry,” said Park and Jupiter in a press release from the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. “It’s been an amazing adventure! We will dearly miss our many friends and customers who have brought us joy and satisfaction every day. We are confident that passing the torch to Scott, Todd, and Carol is the right move for us, for them, and for this community.”
The shop will now be owned and operated by Scott Dolphin, Todd Nau, and Carol Travis, co-owners of Breathe, a brand name women’s clothing and accessories shop on the Commons.
“Watching Breathe, with their great customer service orientation, along with the partners’ enthusiasm for what Bettsie and I have built here at 15 STEPS convinces us that they are the right people to continue the 15 STEPS tradition,” added Jupiter.
“For decades, 15 STEPS has been an integral part of Downtown Ithaca. Ken and Bettsie have welcomed visitors and local residents for several generations,” said Gary Ferguson, executive director at the DIA. “It is absolutely exciting to have this store transition to new ownership and a new chapter in its life under the guidance of Scott Dolphin. Succession from one owner to another is so important — we are grateful for this successful effort.”