Meet Peter Parkes

Meet Peter Parkes at Benjamin Peters

For those seeking men’s fashion tips and/or a diverse selection of menswear, you’ll want to make it a point to visit Peter Parkes, the owner of Benjamin Peters and one of Ithaca’s most trusted retailers.

Peter is downtown’s extremely knowledgeable haberdasher who comes with a wealth of experience— more than 30 years — in the men’s fashion industry. During the course of a decade, he worked in a management program for a national department store and then for a regional department store in Boston, Mass. area.

“Clothing retail is simply something I enjoy. Seeing new products and brands in the marketplace each season is a thrill to me. Bringing that excitement to a diverse customer base for them to enjoy and meeting new people along the way makes this journey all worthwhile,” says Parkes.

In, 1992, he came to Ithaca to pursue his dream of becoming a retail business owner. His big break in business ownership came after meeting Stuart Lewis, former owner of Irv Lewis: The Store for Men and Boys located on the Ithaca Commons.

“I loved the area while working at JCPenney in the Pyramid Mall and met my wife, who grew up in Lansing, here. Ithaca was the perfect place to raise a family and begin my own clothing business journey. Looking back almost 25 years now on the Commons, there have been many mentors, but Stu Lewis stands out in my mind for his guidance, trust, and support over the years,” says Peter.

Peter worked at Irv Lewis for two years before Stuart retired in December 1993. Peter then purchased the shop and reopened as Benjamin Peters in 1994. The name came from his son Benjamin who was born that same year.    

Peter Parkes, on the right, discusses the quality of one of his store’s dress shoes with a customer.

Benjamin Peters offers a grand selection of high quality, name brand casual and formal menswear. Racks loaded with suit coats of different colors, sizes and patterns line the rear of the shop, a variety of men’s shirts and pants can be found throughout the store, and there is an entire section dedicated to stylish men and women’s footwear and accessories.

“We try to offer items that appeal to everyone among our diverse clientele. There’s something special about assisting a high school student with locating the perfect suit for prom, getting a college graduate fitted for their first job interview suit, working with business professionals who demand the very best for their wardrobe and making sure our longtime customers continue to find the quality in brands they’ve grown to appreciate over the years,” Peter says.

The shop also has a gallery on the second floor so it is a regular participant in Downtown Ithaca’s monthly Gallery Night, a walking tour featuring the latest artworks created by highly skilled local and regional artists.

 Outside of operating his shop, Peter tries to stay physically active in the community by swimming at the YMCA, biking with friends around the Lansing and Ithaca area, and hiking the trails in many state parks. Parkes is also an active member of the business community. He’s served as an active board member for Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Ithaca Alliance.

For more information about Peter and Benjamin Peters, visit the shop at 120 E. State St./Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.  Peter and his highly attentive staff will be ready to greet you.Benjamin Peters can also be found on Facebook at


The Faces of Downtown Ithaca

Some say the best referrals come from trusted family and friends. In Downtown Ithaca, quality recommendations often come from speaking directly to our hospitable downtown business owners and managers. Afterall, who knows their business best than the business owner themselves.

Welcome to Faces of Downtown Ithaca where we’ll give you an insider’s look at downtown’s shops, let you meet your shopkeepers, and restaurateurs who provide this area with some of the finest shopping, dining, and attractions that the Finger Lakes Region has to offer.

Not only do these folks work here, but they also dine, shop, and play here. Many of them also live here, too! This is their Downtown Ithaca and now, they are sharing some of their histories with you.