Trumansburg Connection: Legacies continue and change in Trumansburg businesses

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Trumansburg welcomes two new businesses to Main Street storefronts! June saw the arrival of Homespun Boutique, which moved from it’s Ithaca location. This fall Garrett’s Brewing Company will complete their renovations and open in the old Rongo space. Both businesses are vastly different in their history, but what ties them together is the opportunity to build their own legacy in Trumansburg.


Julie Schroeder began her journey with Homespun Boutique when she was a student at Cornell, and needed some supplies to finish up a weaving project. She first visited Homespun at its original Buffalo Street location, which was owned by Carolyn Walsh. The next time she visited the store, it had moved to a new location in the DeWitt Mall, and it was not long until Julie began working for the store.


Around 1978 Homespun moved to the Ithaca Commons in the old Montgomery Ward building, where it remained for 20 years before moving to another space on the commons. In the early 1980s, Schroeder took ownership of the business. She notes, “I had earned a degree in textiles and clothing, and Carolyn moved to Vermont. She wanted to transfer ownership to an employee so she could have someone who had more responsibility than punching a time clock. She and I became partners and when she realized a couple of years later that she would not return to Ithaca, I bought her out.” She carries on the Homespun legacy today in Trumansburg, with her well-established business in an unassuming storefront, which continues to attract loyal customers from across the county.


Schroeder’s move to Trumansburg was serendipitous. Long-term construction created harsh driving and parking conditions, limiting access to most stores on the Commons. Some friends of Schroeder knew of an empty storefront for rent, just as her lease was ending in Ithaca. “It’s a great spot, I really love it. It’s everything I had downtown just fit right in here in terms of shelving. It was a bare naked building, and it all just fit,” she said.


So far Schroeder describes her experience in Trumansburg as, “A great neighborhood experience, with people walking by and stopping in and noting the beauty of the store, whether they knit or sew or not, and mentioning friends or family members that will be so excited to come to the store when they visit Trumansburg. Old customers have come up from the Ithaca area, and new people have come in from Hector, Lodi, Interlaken, Romulus, Montour Falls, and Watkins Glen.” When asked what she is most looking forward to in her new home, it is clear she is motivated to continue the momentum of building her neighborhood and community connections. She said, “I encourage people to stop in with questions, and challenges, and show and tell of what they work on. So much stuff goes out the door and people do amazing things with fabric, with yarn, that are not necessarily sewing or knitting. It will be nice to have a gathering of the success, and failure, what went right or wrong, what could be done better next time.”


Building community connections is a sentiment echoed by Greg and Crystal Garrett, who have been renovating the old Rongo building, and plan to open Garrett’s Brewing Company this fall. This endeavor seems much more challenging than opening Homespun Boutique. From both working full-time jobs to renovating the space, to navigating liquor licensing, and embracing the community’s feelings about the Rongo transformation, it is fair to say they have a lot on their plate.


Both local to the area, Garrett’s landed in Trumansburg after looking at options in the Ithaca and Hector areas and fell in love with the architecture of the Rongo space. Greg has transferred his enthusiasm for creating beer into enthusiasm for creating a new space for Trumansburg. A new space that will live in a legendary and larger than life building, with a community so very tied to it. When asked how they see the brewery honoring the Rongo legacy while also creating their own legacy, Greg said, “One of the things that the Rongo was known for was being the ‘living room of Trumansburg,’ and that is what we want here. We want that social environment. It may not be as loud or as dark as the Rongo used to be, but we still want that big social interaction between people who are here. But I think that social interaction and gathering place is where I held on to that Rongo legacy, and we want to keep that. Don’t let the paper on the windows fool you, that is just so we can focus and complete the renovations.”


Making a home in a town that is already known for its bar and restaurant scene takes some finesse. And Garrett’s is the perfect addition to Trumansburg, as breweries break from that traditional scene, favoring a more laid back atmosphere than most places. Greg said, “We aren’t a bar. Breweries play a little different than a bar. We won’t be open as late, the bands we have in here will be much more acoustic, not as loud.” Crystal notes, especially since the installation of the brewing tanks, “The place is huge, but it’s just not big enough for a big sound.” In addition, Greg said, “When we pulled the new building code which changed a couple of years ago, it cut our occupancy in half.” So really, the loud music of the old days can’t be absorbed by bodies, and it would make the building cavernous.


Upon opening the brewery will have 12 taps; eight of their own beer, two soda taps, and two local ciders. They have applied for both microbrewery and farm brewery licenses, the later allowing them to sell local ciders, plus allowing them to use local hops and regionally-grown grain, which helps grow the local economy. Beers will include a couple of Northeast IPA’s, a West Coast style IPA, a Porter with a couple of unique, special ingredients, an Imperial Stout, possibly a wild hopped Stout, a Pilsner, and a Lager. Unique and unlike anything in Trumansburg’s already bustling restaurant scene.


Food will be boneless BBQ, including sliders, pulled meats, and vegetarian and possibly vegan options.


Trumansburg is excited to welcome these new businesses, as both carry with them very different types of legacies to be built upon and carried on. Ribbon cutting ceremonies, coordinated by the Trumansburg Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Village of Trumansburg, will be held for both businesses. While Garrett’s ceremony date is to be determined, the Homespun ceremony will be held on Saturday, Oct. 20, with a time to be announced soon.

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