Micro retail comes to Downtown Ithaca with ribbon-cutting ceremonies on Wednesday

July 1, 2014 by Mark H. Anbinder

The Downtown Ithaca Alliance is inviting the community to a trio of ribbon cuttings late Wednesday morning to welcome a new form of business -- micro-retail stores. The new Press Bay Alley complex is on West Green Street in what used to be the alley next to the Ithaca Journal's press facility.

Press Bay Alley at 118 West Green Street. Photo provided by DIA.Press Bay Alley at 118 West Green Street. Photo provided by DIA.The new row of tiny stores, with 188 square foot and 376 square foot units available, will offer an easy start-up environment for small retail businesses. They could provide full-time space for farmers market vendors, artists, craft makers, or simply retail shops that don't need a lot of space.

Downtown Ithaca Alliance organizers and Mayor Svante Myrick will be on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremonies, which begin at 11am for Press Bay Alley itself. The facility provides dedicated heating and air conditioning to each unit, and "modern overhead glass sectional doors" that will allow vendors to expand onto the sidewalk space in front of their shops in good weather.

A second ribbon cutting at 11:15am will be for Boxy Bikes, the first tenant for the mini-mall. This business, founded in 2012 by Lawrence Clarkberg in 2012, offers electric bikes for sale or rental that are well suited to Ithaca's hilly terrain. The bikes can go 20mph, "and yes, they can go up Buffalo Street without pedaling," says Clarkberg. Boxy Bikes will be open Tuesday through Friday 9am-4pm and Saturday 11am-2pm, with frequent special Friday evening events.

Amuse: Modern Cottage Industry will have the final ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11:30am. This store, opened by Kristina Thelen, who founded Funky Fresh, originally Funky Junk, will feature one-of-a-kind gifts under $50 from over 50 American craftspeople, including 20 from the Ithaca area. Amuse will be open Monday and Wednesday 11am-5pm, Thursday 11am-7pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-8pm, and Sunday 11am-4pm. 

The area has been under-used since the Ithaca Journal closed its press facility in 2006, but until then the bay was used for decades by delivery trucks and newspaper carriers loading up stacks of newspapers. Most of the Ithaca Journal's operations are now handled in other Gannett newspaper facilities in the region, such as Binghamton's Press & Sun Bulletin. The adjacent parking lot has been used the last couple of years as the Beer Garden stage at the Ithaca Festival.

Press Bay Alley is right next to Life's So Sweet Chocolates, a small candy business that began in Trumansburg and opened a retail outlet as one of the winners of Downtown Ithaca's Race for the Space contest, which provided free rent for a year to two small businesses.

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