Downtown Ithaca welcomes three new businesses

Willow owner Laura Bishop, center, cuts a ribbon with City of Ithaca Common Council Alderman Rob Gearhart, while City of Ithaca Deputy Director of Economic Development Phyllisa DeSarno (far left), building owner Doug Levine, Laura's husband Theo Bishop, and Downtown Ithaca Alliance Executive Director Gary Ferguson look on during a ceremony held outside of the new women's clothing and accessories boutique on Wednesday.

Ribbon cuttings held today to celebrate Cayuga Coins, Willow and Escape Ithaca

The Downtown Ithaca Alliance and city officials recently welcomed Cayuga Coins, Willow, and Escape Ithaca to downtown Ithaca during a ribbon cutting ceremony held at each site.

“These three businesses illustrate how the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well here in Ithaca. Whether it be coins, women’s clothing, or entertainment, the owners of these new businesses are showing us that downtown is a great place for businesses to grow their dreams,” said DIA Executive Director Gary Ferguson.


City of Ithaca Economic Development Deputy Director Phyllisa DeSarno (left), Downtown Ithaca Alliance Executive Gary Ferguson, Cayuga Coins owner Bob Lisk and his business partner Frank Anderson watch as City of Ithaca Common Council 3rd Ward Alderman Rob Gearhart prepares to cut a ribbon during a ceremony held at Cayuga Coins on Wednesday. The ceremony marks the grand opening of Cayuga Coins. The coin and stamp shop opened in the Fall and is located in Dewitt Mall.

City of Ithaca Economic Development Deputy Director Phyllisa DeSarno (left), Downtown Ithaca Alliance Executive Gary Ferguson, Cayuga Coins owner Bob Lisk and his business partner Frank Anderson watch as City of Ithaca Common Council 3rd Ward Alderman Rob Gearhart prepares to cut a ribbon during a ceremony held at Cayuga Coins.

Cayuga Coins, owned by Trumansburg resident Rob Lisk, is the perfect place for customers to buy or sell rare and valuable U.S. or foreign currency and stamps or purchase supplies for their coin and/or stamp collecting hobby. It is located on the bottom level of the Dewitt Mall and opened in early fall.

“Ithaca really needs this store. There’s a lot of collectors and they love the history behind the coins and the history told by the coins. I love the history, too, so I feel this was a good thing to move this business forward,” Lisk said.

Lisk was an antique dealer prior to purchasing the coin shop.

Frank Anderson serves as his assistant, and he has extensive knowledge about foreign coins, Lisk added.

Cayuga Coins, formerly Harold’s Coins, was previously owned by Harold L. Benjamin Jr. who died unexpectedly this past summer.

For more information about Cayuga Coins, call (607) 277-3301.


Willow is downtown’s latest women’s clothing and accessories boutique.

The store, located on W. State Street, sells trendy and basic fashions — many of them dedicated to social good whether it is American made, fair trade, or eco-friendly. A variety of scented lotions along with jewelry and other accessories are also available.

Laura Bishop is the shop owner. She has a degree in fashion marketing from the Art Institute of Philadelphia and 10 years of retail experience, including four years of managing a store in Cortland.

“I’m excited to be here. The local love and support has been amazing…There is a lot of wonderful clothing and other items in the store, so I encourage everyone to visit and do some shopping here,” Bishop said.

As part of Willow’s grand opening celebration, customers will receive a special gift with purchase through December 10.

For additional information about Willow, call the store at (607) 319-4935. You can also follow Willow on Facebook and on Instagram @willowIthaca.


Escape Ithaca's Ray Weaver and his business partner Jim Potocki pose in front of a portion of the new puzzle room, Escape the Abominable Snowman. A ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening celebration were held at Escape Ithaca on Wednesday. This new entertainment hotspot is located on West State Street between State Theatre and Willow.

Escape Ithaca’s Ray Weaver and his business partner Jim Potocki pose in front of a portion of the new puzzle room, Escape the Abominable Snowman.

Escape Ithaca, a two-room establishment, which is wedged between State Theatre and Willow on W. State Street, is the city’s first interactive, immersive puzzle game.

Filled with riddles, gadgets, and mind tricks, the mysteries behind Escape’s doors will challenge guests and their teammates to 60 minutes of isolation where problem-solving, creativity and resourcefulness are the only skills that will set them free.

Escape Ithaca’s mission is to create educational experiences that foster creativity, team building, and human ingenuity. The entire theme, display, and experience at Escape will be designed for a unique educational experience — packaged in an entertaining format, said Ray Weaver, an Ithaca resident who co-owns the business with his Jim Potocki from New York City.

“It’s been an incredible and fun journey so far. We’ve had between 300 to 400 customers already come through the room, and they’ve said that they loved their experience,” Weaver said.

At Escape Ithaca, a new puzzle is developed every three to six months, so guests may never experience the same adventure twice. Escape Ithaca’s new room, Escape the Abominable Snowman, opens this weekend.

Additional information about Escape Ithaca can be found at www.escapeithaca.com.