February 8, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 46°F


Downtown Ithaca businesses attract students with new discount program

The Downtown Ithaca Alliance launched the Downtown Ithaca Student Discount Program this fall in an effort to encourage more college students to visit businesses downtown.

This initiative follows a downtown employee discount program, which was created as a friendly incentive for local workers to visit other neighborhood businesses.

The DIA held its most recent distribution day at the Apple Harvest Festival this past weekend. Kris Lewis, operations director at the DIA, said the DIA is also looking to distribute at schools to get the cards in more students’ hands.

“It’s in our best interest to get them in everybody’s hands,” she said. “The more the businesses see the students using them, the more their neighbors that haven’t signed up will probably be interested in enrolling, too.”

Students at Cornell University, Finger Lakes School of Massage, Ithaca College, Tompkins Cortland Community College and Wells College are eligible for the program. Students just need their student ID cards to receive the discount card for free from the DIA website, which can in turn be used at 34 downtown businesses.

“We just wanted to make sure that the students were aware of what kind of businesses are downtown, and we hope this would be a way for them to come down and experience the downtown,” Lewis said.

The businesses involved with the program offer different discounts, including 10, 15 or 20 percent–off purchases depending on the location. Some businesses offer specific offers, like Sammy’s Pizzeria, whose discount is $1 cheese slices on Mondays and Tuesdays, according to the DIA’s website.

As more businesses join the program, they will be added to the DIA’s website, where students can check back to see where else they can use the card, Lewis said.

Uncorked Creations, a new business that opened last spring, is a part of the DIA’s new program. Alise Pierson, owner of Uncorked Creations, said she decided to offer a discount to attract more students to the business’ classes.

The main offerings are 3-hour painting classes, where an instructor guides the attendees in how to paint a specific painting while they drink wine and eat snacks. Pierson also owns another location in Binghamton, New York, where she said the classes are just starting to catch on with college students.

Lila Anzalone, a sophomore at Ithaca College, picked up her discount card at the festival this past weekend and is looking forward to using the discount at Sammy’s to save money on food.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “It supports the businesses … I feel like when more people sign up for them, then more people will actually get into the stores and spend some money.”

Lewis said the DIA is hoping to start a Facebook campaign to do giveaways for students who have the discount card. After the program is in place for a few months, the DIA also plans to reach out to the businesses involved to see if they have experienced any increase in student engagement.

This article was produced for the Multimedia Journalism class.