Autumn Leaves Used Books


Store Name Autumn Leaves Used Books
An independently owned store that fosters a book-loving communityBusiness Type Book, Periodical, and Music Stores

NAICS Code 4512

Location 115 The Commons, Ithaca, NY 14850

Nearby Businesses An eclectic mix of apparel, gift stores, book stores and other independent specialty retail stores complemented with a diverse mix of cafes and restaurants.

Owner/Manager Joe Wetmore

Special Store Activities n/a

Year Opened 1993


Phone 607-273-8239


Community Profile Ithaca NY (City Pop. 30,000/10-mile ring Pop. 81,000) is located on Cayuga Lake, the longest of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York, Ithaca is 4.5 hour from New York City and an hour from Syracuse. While Ithaca is centrally isolated in upstate New York (it has no interstate highway), its residents enjoy many of the cultural aspects of larger cities. Ithaca is best known for its two main educational institutions, Cornell University and Ithaca College. These institutions attract students and professors from around the country and world and make Ithaca a culturally rich and diverse community. Ithaca is also viewed by many as one of the most beautiful small cities in the country. Its hilly topography includes many parks, gorges and waterfalls, including Taughannock Falls, the highest waterfall in the eastern U.S. Downtown’s “Ithaca Commons” remains a successful pedestrian mall that features independent shops, cafes, bookstores, galleries, and two small enclosed malls (“Center Ithaca” and the DeWitt Mall). Other commercial districts include “Collegetown” (serving Cornell), a regional mall northeast of town and an emerging strip of big box stores on the southwest side

Products Sold & Niche Developed

This store offers a unusual and varied collection of books not found at Barnes and Noble or Borders. Patrons of Autumn Leaves can choose from a large selection of used books, organized by category ranging from Literary Fiction and Poetry, to Local History and Psychology—to name a few. Autumn Leaves also has an ever-changing selection of collectable books. If a customer is looking for first editions, signed books or antiquarian books, it is likely that they have the volume. In addition to their books, Autumn Leaves also sells records, boasting the largest collection of rock & roll, jazz, classical, comedy, blues, folk, soundtracks and world beat in the area. Shoppers can also have lunch or a cup of coffee at the Autumn Leaves Café, which offers a number of vegan and vegetarian options and organic, fair-trade coffee. This store has become a destination for book enthusiasts and has allowed Autumn Leaves to co-exist with big box book retailers. In addition, Autumn Leaves has developed a niche in the Ithaca community as a used bookstore that has the selection and quality of a new bookstore and that has a knowledgeable staff that is able to help customers with any question they might have.

Market Segments Served

The highly educated community of Ithaca forms the primary clientele of Autumn Leaves. The store is a meeting and browsing place with an atmosphere that attracts faculty and other locals. Also, there are a number of tourists who come to Ithaca for the colleges, lakes or the wineries, make a stop downtown and visit Autumn Leaves as part of their trip.

Contributions to the Business Community

Autumn Leaves is a participant in the Ithaca HOURS program, a local currency effort in which 600 businesses participate. By participating, these businesses help keep dollars local and promote growth in the Ithaca economy. Autumn Leaves also acts as a bank for HOURS, allowing people to change the HOURS they have into different denominations. Furthermore, Ithaca has developed a niche as a bookstore-rich town, with Autumn Leaves contributing to that designation. This is an added incentive for some tourists, who may come downtown to see the bookstores and also visit other businesses in the area.

Review by: Danny Bruce, UW Extension CCED