Trader K’s

Meet Karen and Jay Sciarabba: Owners of Trader K’s

Karen and Jay Sciarabba’s store, Trader K’s, a popular discount clothing shop in downtown Ithaca, is proof that dreams can come true for those who put forth a lot of hard work and dedication towards achieving their dream.

Karen’s inspiration to open Trader K’s came after spotting an attractive consignment shop in Arizona where she worked during the winter months in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

“I saw people constantly coming in and out of that store with many items and just knew a store like that would work in Ithaca. The community needed this type of store,” says Karen.

Driven by the idea of owning her own clothing shop in the Ithaca area, Karen, a Dryden native, started purchasing clothing at garage sales and decor from stores that were going out of business for her dream store. After four years of purchasing items and decoratives, she collected enough to fill a modestly sized space.

While Karen was planning to start her business, she married Jay, and even though she had no retail experience — she’d worked as a waitress, bartender, and painter — she convinced him that her idea would be a success.

The pair rented a 900 square foot space in the Rothschild Building and saw immediate success.  After a year, the store had almost tripled in size, and after 10 years they bought their own downtown building, their current 4,000 square foot space on the Commons.  

“It truly is a great business that benefits the community,” says Jay, noting he helped her along the way using the business experience he acquired from working for F&T food distributors and George Junior Republic. He also owned the Parcel Plus store that was formerly in Lansing Village Place.

It’s clear when you walk into Trader K’s that the Sciarabba’s are among downtown’s hardest working couples and business partners. Karen is typically busy folding or placing items on the shelves and racks or assisting customers while Jay is tidying the place or checking inventory, and there is a lot of items in the store to keep track of.

In fact, visitors and even long-time customers marvel at the abundance and quality of the gently used, name brand men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, toys, and other items that are available in the two-floor shop. And, they typically walk out with a couple of purchases.

“We have customers who have come here since the beginning and they love that during each visit they can always find something they want for themselves or someone else. That’s what this business is all about, offering clothing that people want to buy,” says Jay.

The Sciarabba’s are looking forward to next year when Trader K’s celebrates 25 years in business.  The couple says they’ll offer special deals during the store’s anniversary weekend in May.

To learn more about the Sciarabba’s or about Trader K’s, stop by the store at 119 E. State St. (the Commons), visit the store website at or check out the shop’s Facebook Page.



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.