ITHACA, N.Y. — Representatives from the City of Ithaca, Downtown Ithaca Alliance (DIA) and Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce celebrated five downtown businesses Friday with a ribbon cutting at each location. 

Officials congratulated owners on their newly-established and, for some, entirely reimagined businesses. The group spent around an hour touring the Ithaca Mini Mart, Cayuga Lake Creamery, and the new conjoined spaces for Home Green Home, Nothing Nowhere and Petrune. After congratulatory remarks, business owners cut through hefty strands of glossy red ribbon with an equally hefty pair of oversized scissors to celebrate the prospects of new beginnings for local commerce. 

Festivities began at the Ithaca Mini Mart near the corner of South Cayuga and West Green Street. Owned and operated by brothers Manjit and Harjit Singh, the new convenience store offers not only standard market snacks, but also a wide array of craft beer, hard seltzers and other alcoholic beverages. 

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Alderperson Seph Murtagh, representing the city, denoted the importance of having retail downtown and expressed excitement about the new storefront on behalf of Mayor Svante Myrick.

DIA Executive Director Gary Ferguson echoed the sentiments and commended the Singh family for their perseverance in establishing the Mini Mart, especially after obtaining a long-awaited liquor license amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I wanted to say on behalf of the whole downtown community, welcome to you all,” he said. “It’s really exciting to have you join us here in Ithaca.” 

The Cayuga Lake Creamery, which serves homemade ice cream, will also be joining the downtown community at its newest location in the DeWitt Mall. Its opening marks a transition from the Creamery’s initial pop-up spot to a now-permanent ice cream shop. 

Tompkins Chamber Member Relationship Manager Ritza Francois praised the new location. 

“We’re so happy that you’re investing in this area,” she said. “It’s bringing so much life to this building… we’re here to support you and congratulations.” 

Renee Rose, general manager at Cayuga Lake Creamery’s DeWitt Mall location, expressed her enthusiasm about the business’ transformation. 

“We’re just really happy to be here. It’s a really wonderful neighborhood,” Rose said. “I feel like [the space] suits us nicely.” 

Ferguson said that the Creamery’s opening injects hope into the downtown community. 

“You guys are the epitome of optimism,” he said. “That’s exactly what we need.”

A cluster of businesses being celebrated during Friday’s ribbon cutting were Home Green Home, a sustainable home furnishings shop, and Nothing Nowhere, a cafe, that took over the space that Petrune, a vintage clothing store, had occupied until October of this year. 

Home Green Home and Nothing Nowhere moved from their previous location in the Rothschild building on the end of the Commons and Petrune relocated to a space formerly reserved for the since-shuttered vintage jewelry shop on East State Street, Sheldon Hill.

Following the complete renovation of the space, a go-between door connects this hub of familiar businesses in an accessible way. Customers can purchase vintage clothing from Petrune, stop by Nothing Nowhere for some coffee or tea and browse household items at Home Green Home—all without having to exit the building. 

DIA representatives continued to laud their optimism and excitement for the future of small business in the downtown community. Ferguson addressed the owners before a consecutive ribbon cutting commemoration ensued for both storefronts. 

“All of you have rethought who you are, what you want to be and how you are going to do it,” Ferguson said. “I think that bodes well for the future, for you and for the downtown community.” 

Caleb Harrington, a Nothing Nowhere barista and local artist, built upon gratuitous remarks made by Megan Vidler, owner of Home Green Home. 

“There’s only one direction and it’s forward,” Harrington said. “We gotta keep moving [and] keep our heads above water—as a community.”

James Baratta

James Baratta is a New York-based journalist and writer. He is a graduate of Ithaca College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. His work has appeared in POLITICO, Truthout and Common Dreams....