Toko Imports and other retailers offering classes, activities, and services in their shop space
Downtown Ithaca’s traditional retailers are recognizing that online retail is causing a shift in consumer shopping habits and that brick and mortar shops now need to offer hands-on and authentic experiences to draw shoppers into their stores.
This trendy way of operating a brick and mortar store is called experiential retail where shops offer a mix of retail, services, and entertainment. Shoppers will find this type of experience in many of downtown Ithaca’s shops.
The latest example of experiential retail in downtown Ithaca exists at Toko Imports, Downtown Ithaca’s specialty shop for drums and world percussion, fine hats, fair-trade jewelry and goddess-inspired gifts. This specialty shop recently added new services in its retail space that jive well with the experiential retail concept.
Now, instructors who provide classes, workshops, or other types of group activities, can host them at Toko where a multifunctional, 500-square-foot studio space is available to rent for that purpose. The studio space has hardwood floors and plenty of natural light, a perfect spot for dance rehearsals, meetings, and other community functions.
The studio space is available to rent before and after shop hours for a reasonable fee — $20-$30 per hour. The fee is based on a sliding scale. Discounted rates are available for daytime rentals while the shop is open and for those renting the space for more than 10 hours per month. For more information, call Toko Imports at (607) 288-2307.
The public, unless otherwise noted, is welcome to attend any of the activities hosted at Toko. Upcoming activities include Latin Percussion for Beginners, West African Drumming, Doumbek drum class w/ Nikolai Ruskin, a Kid’s Percussion Workshop, along with Belly Dancing and Hip Hop dance sessions. Details, including event times and registration information, about these and other upcoming activities, can be found on Toko Imports’ Facebook Page.
Toko, located in the historic Dewitt Mall at the corner of N. Cayuga and E. Buffalo streets, is one of many independently owned and operated downtown Ithaca businesses offering a diversified retail space where visitors can shop and receive other services.
Many other Downtown Ithaca shops and boutiques also present experiential retail at their shops. One of the ways they are offering it is by providing hands-on classes and workshops.
As examples, Sew Green, downtown’s top spot for reusable sewing materials, offers a variety of classes and camps where people of all ages can learn about sewing designs and techniques, and at Jillian’s Drawers, shoppers can participate in parenting classes at the store’s award-winning community room after they rummage through the variety of gently used baby and toddler items. More than a dozen other downtown Ithaca businesses offer classes, as well.
Combining multiple businesses into one retail space is another way downtown’s retailers are providing experiential retail.
Autumn Leaves Used Books, where customers can purchase a classic novel from the 60,000 books in stock or buy a vinyl record and enjoy a tasty vegan or vegetarian dish made fresh at Ten Forward Cafe on the second floor of the store, is one example of that model. Another example is Petrune, where guests can find quality made vintage wear and also receive hair care services at Hare and Bristle, downtown’s newest salon, located on the second floor of the shop.
A third method retailers use to provide experiential retail is by offering retail along with specialty services. This method is seen at Narrative Space, 213 N. Aurora St., where visitors can purchase name brand, high-end men’s and women’s fashions and receive a shave and a haircut at the barbershop located within the store. Shoppers will also find a combo of retail and services at Green Street Pharmacy where they can fill their prescriptions and enjoy a cream soda, a hand mixed float or an ice cream sundae at the indoor cafe. In addition, at Comics for Collectors, shoppers will be able to experience role-playing style board game demonstrations while they shop for the latest graphic novels.
Many other Downtown Ithaca shops and boutiques also present experiential retail in some way, shape or form so be sure to stop by your favorite stores regularly to see what’s available.
To learn more about the variety of products and services downtown Ithaca stores and others provide, visit http://www.downtownithaca.com.