Ithaca is not your average, commercialized town. The people here love and care for the nature, which makes Ithaca as beautiful as it is. There is also a great emphasis on independent stores, co-operatives and just “thinking locally”. These two ideas of thinking locally and environmental sustainability complement each other in Ithaca and come across in quaint aspects of the town.
1) Second Hand Clothing Stores
The Ithaca Mall is not the best place for shopping. I did not find much variety in clothes and all the options are in the same price range. But the popularity of second hand clothing stores in the area is surprising. They have unique pieces, designs of all kinds and something to fit every budget. “So the next time you find yourself wanting a new outfit that half of your lecture class isn’t already wearing, think eco-friendly and head downtown instead of hitting the mall,” said a wise Cornell student.
2) Natural/Organic food.
Search Ithaca on trip advisor and Moosewood Restaurant is going to be somewhere near the top of the “Things to do in Ithaca” list. It is a vegetarian, natural foods restaurant. The menu changes everyday according to the seasonal ingredients. They use fresh, locally sourced produce in the kitchen and that is the kind of thing we in Ithaca get excited about. There are a number of natural, organic food restaurants here and even a popular natural foods co-op market called GreenStar.
3) Ithaca Hours
Ithaca is determined to foster self reliance in the community that it actually created its own currency. “In 1991, Ithaca Hours began developing a legal currency for our town. Today, there are over $100,000 worth of Hours in circulation.” Supposedly, some businesses and employers accept and pay in Ithaca Hours, but I have yet to come across an Ithaca Hour.
4) Local Banks
It surprised me that most people and businesses in Ithaca bank with local banks such as Tompkins Trust Company and CFCU Community Credit Union. My parents have accounts only with large national/multinational banks and so did everyone else I ever knew, until I came to Ithaca. Now I use Tompkins Trust Company and my paychecks from on campus jobs get processed very quickly because the university seems to bank with Tompkins too.
5) Quirky Stores
Just yesterday, I spoke to the owner of a new business to open in Ithaca: An art studio where people can pay for painting sessions under the guidance of a local artist. It sounded strange to me and I wondered if that can be successful business model. But, the store is thriving in another town in New York State and the owner hopes for the same here.
Then I came across “The Enchanted Badger” which is described as “Ithaca’s friendly local game shop.” Yes, a shop just for board games. You can even throw your friends a board game party there.
This is just a small sample from many, many quirky aspects of Ithaca all of which reflect the town’s emphasis on being local, sustainable and a close knit community. Ithaca isn’t just gorges, it’s bohemian and responsible. And the stores and restaurants I just mentioned in this blogpost? That’s what I’m going to be exploring this Spring Break.