This transcript is from a Talk of the Town segment by Clara Enders on November 21.
Believe it or not, the holidays are already right around the corner, and what better way to give your gift-giving some Ithaca flair than by shopping local? On Saturday, November 28th, the Ithaca Chamber of Commerce is holding its sixth annual Small Business Saturday. Created by American Express in 2010, this event is a way for communities to support local businesses outside of Black Friday. We reached out to two, local, woman-owned businesses to learn about their Small Business Saturday specials, and what they love about doing business in Ithaca.
Easy Living Hats is a sustainable hat brand owned by Olivia Royale. She sought to create a brimmed hat that could be worn in any season, would stretch to fit larger size heads, and could be packed or folded into a bag. When her initial design took off, she was able to partner with an organic cotton fiber company in Peru to source prima cotton yarn dyed with native Peruvian plants, as well as hire production to keep her online store stocked.
Easy Living Hats have been sold at Handwork Cooperative and the Ithaca Farmers Market. However, artisan goods were not made essential under coronavirus restrictions, so Easy Living was not able to sell at the market this spring and summer. Royale took this time to improve her website for online orders, invest in more sustainable packing options, and update her product photos with a more diverse range of people. Royale says that shipping delays during the initial wave of covid taught her to be patient: She prides herself in partnering with other small businesses to source wire for hat brims and other components, and facing the same challenges as her suppliers strengthened their working relationships.
Royale’s favorite part of owning a business in Ithaca is the community here. She says that the supportive customer base she has built up over the years continues to buy hats both for themselves, and now as holiday gifts. She adds that Ithaca’s climate means that Ithacans need hats for all seasons, and she loves being a go-to local option when it’s time to buy a new one.
For Small Business Saturday, shoppers can purchase hats on Royale’s website, easylivinghats.com. Customers can work with Royale to coordinate shipping or local pick up– she has even delivered in-person to some people’s homes in the past! From November 25th to December 1st, Easy Living will be running a buy one/get one sale, where shoppers can mix and match which hats they buy: buy one beanie and get one half off, or grab a sun hat and a beanie for your hat-fix year round! Shoppers can use code HolidayBOGO to redeem. Just for WVBR listeners on easylivinghats.com, use code WVBR for 20% a hat. Find Easy Living Hats at easylivinghats.com, @easylivinghats on Instagram.
Petrune is now a store in Downtown Ithaca, but their story began at a flea market in Brooklyn in 1998. Owner Domenica Brockman and her husband Justin Hjortshoj wanted to open a store, but the task seemed daunting, so she began at the flea market selling vintage bread boxes and antique textiles. Once the opportunity presented itself, they teamed up with other vendors, and bought a storefront in Ithaca. Petrune now sells carefully curated vintage options, handmade and indie label clothing, jewelry, accessories, and more.
This year, Petrune unfortunately had to lay off their staff, and was closed for three months. The two largest tenants in their Sheldon Hill building also moved out. When they reopened, Domenica heard that two other Ithaca businesses, Home Green Home and Nothing Nowhere Cafe were looking to relocate. So, she offered them Petrune’s larger storefront, and Petrune moved next door. The second-floor hair salon, Hare and Bristle, stayed in place, and they had a connecting door installed between the spaces so all four businesses could be connected.
Brockman says that since Petrune’s reopening, they’ve gotten some exciting new items in, and noticed a slight shift in customer’s tastes. Petrune has a line of fun facemasks, with some of them handmade locally. She says there is a demand for cozy and more casual clothing options, but that people are also buying sparkly velvet holiday dresses. She says people want to look good and feel good, even if they’re just celebrating with their pod.
Brockman’s favorite items at Petrune right now include a line of clothing from Spain featuring unique prints. She recommends their oversized brown cardigan with multi-colored polka dots, since it’s cozy and fun without being over-the-top. She’s also fond of their stuffed Alpaca dolls, which have soft fur and a lot of personality. Brockman loves that Ithaca is an intimate and relatively small community that still gets new energy from students and visitors from all over the world. She says it seems like everywhere you go, you can find people who have a link back to Ithaca.
Shoppers can find Petrune at their new address, 128 East State Street. On Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, shoppers can get 25% off any black, or predominantly black, item in the store. In the future, Petrune is also planning to institute private shopping hours by appointment. Updates on this, and other happenings at Petrune, can be found on their website, petrune.com, and on their Instagram, petrune_ithacany.
You can shop locally and support members of the Ithaca community this Small Business Saturday on November 28th, and more information can be found at tompkinschamber.org.