Downtown Ithaca launching holiday shopping season with three special promotions to celebrate its independently owned businesses

The holiday shopping season is upon us, and Downtown Ithaca will kick off this special time of year by presenting Shift Your Shopping Weekend, three fun themed shopping days where many of downtown’s locally owned and operated specialty shops and businesses will offer special deals, contests, activities, demonstrations, cider tastings, and more to their customers.

Shift Your Shopping will begin the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23 with Plaid Friday, a celebration of downtown’s diverse and creative local and independent businesses which also serves as a reminder to shoppers to show their support for downtown’s business owners who rely on those dollars to continue to provide their goods and services to the community.

In addition, Plaid Friday is tamer and much more pleasurable alternative shopping experience when compared to the day’s national big-box shopping frenzy known as Black Friday where crowds of people stampede through the stores looking for deals on merchandise that is available in limited supply. During Plaid Friday in downtown Ithaca, patrons can leisurely stroll through downtown’s shops and enjoy the added value of amenities such as complimentary gift wrapping or browse for specialty gifts, many of which are one-of-a-kind, handcrafted items created by highly skilled local artisans.

Shoppers can also show their support by wearing plaid while shopping at participating downtown businesses on November 23. Check our Facebook Page or for a list of participating stores.  

Downtown Ithaca will continue its celebration of local retailers on Nov. 24 as part of Small Business Saturday, a nationwide initiative that provides an opportunity for patrons to demonstrate their support for local businesses and the community. During Small Business Saturday, many downtown shops may offer special deals and some stores will be distributing “Shop Small” canvas bags (while supplies last) to their customers.

To continue the holiday shopping spirit past the traditionally busy shopping weekend, Downtown Ithaca, on Nov. 26, will host Cider Monday, a tasty alternative to Cyber Monday where shoppers may receive complimentary cider samples as they look for gifts in downtown’s stores. Additional details, including cider tasting locations, are available at the Downtown Ithaca Facebook Event Page.

“When money is spent at independent locally owned businesses, the money stays here and strengthens the economic base of where we live. Plus, patrons should support these specialty businesses because they contribute to the character of our community by offering exclusive shopping and dining options,” says Gary Ferguson, executive director of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance (DIA).

The DIA and Local First Ithaca are organizing the themed holiday shopping days. To further encourage consumers to shop local during Shift Your Shopping, the DIA is conducting a selfie photo contest. While you are shopping downtown between November 23 and November 26, snap a selfie and then post it on Facebook or Instagram using the tag @downtownithaca and hashtags #downtownithaca, #plaidfridayIthaca, #shopsmallithaca, or #CiderMondayIthaca, and you will have a chance to win one of two $100 Downtown Ithaca gift cards. Look for additional contest details and rules on Downtown Ithaca’s Facebook Events Page.

Also, this holiday season, be sure to check out Downtown Ithaca’s upcoming family-fun festivities including Santa’s arrival on Saturday, Dec. 1, the 12th Annual Ithaca Ice Festival presented by Elmira Savings Bank, City Centre Apartments, and Hilton Garden Inn Ithaca from December 6-8, the 9th Annual Chowder Cook-Off and Habitat for Humanity of Tompkins and Cortland Counties Cookie Walk on Saturday, Dec. 8.

As a friendly reminder to shoppers, parking in downtown Ithaca is free in the evenings — after 6 p.m. on the street and after 8 p.m. in the garages — and all day on Saturday and Sunday. For more information about downtown parking, visit

More details about Downtown Ithaca’s holiday events and promotions are available at


ABOUT PLAID FRIDAY: Plaid Friday was conceptualized in Oakland, CA, a city known for strong shop local campaigns. Plaid Friday strives to bring back the days when shopping for friends and family during the holidays was a pleasurable and leisurely activity. The name Plaid Friday was conceived from the idea of weaving the individual threads of small businesses together to create a strong fabric that celebrates the diversity and creativity of independent businesses. Plaid Friday is the relaxing and enjoyable alternative to the big box store “Black Friday,” and is designed to promote both local and independently owned businesses during the holidays. More information is available at

ABOUT SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY: Founded by American Express seven years ago, Small Business Saturday has grown into a powerful movement with more people taking part every year. In 2017, an estimated 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local independently-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday — generating roughly $12 billion in reported spending. 

ABOUT CIDER MONDAY: Cider Monday was conceived by independent bookseller Toadstool Bookshops and spread with the help of Monadnock Buy Local (an Independent Business Alliance serving southwest New Hampshire) which provides a roster of participating businesses here. Cider Monday proponents are encouraging residents to patronize their locally-owned retailers and organizing merchants to reward customers with complimentary cider (locally-grown apples a plus!).

ABOUT THE DOWNTOWN ITHACA ALLIANCE:  The Downtown Ithaca Alliance a State of New York chartered 501c3 not-for-profit organization charged with the revitalization, development, promotion, and management of the Downtown Ithaca Business Improvement District.

ABOUT LOCAL FIRST ITHACA: Local First Ithaca is a group made up of independent, locally owned businesses, concerned individuals, and community organizations. Together, they are striving to develop a Local Living Economy that will sustain a vibrant, livable community in the Ithaca area