September 5, 2007

Fontana’s Celebrates 100 Years of Business in Ithaca

Print More

Collegetown’s oldest store is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The shoe store Fontana’s is widely known among local Ithaca residents and college students as having good quality shoes and customer service. Currently located at 418 Eddy Street, Fontana’s originally began as a shoe repair store in 1907 on College Ave. Caesar Fontana, the original owner, immigrated from Segni, Italy to Ithaca and started work on Cornell’s Bailey Hall. As soon as he saved up enough money, Fontana returned to work in the trade he knew best, shoe repair. He quickly started Fontana’s and established the shoe store that still exists today.
The current owner, Shawn Manning, bought the store from Steven Fontana, Caesar Fontana’s son, in April of 2002. Shawn still employs members of the Fontana family, including Steven Fontana’s niece, Kady Fontana. Only a high school student, Kady Fontana works after school there part-time and is a reminder of the Fontana family that started the profitable business. [img_assist|nid=24046|title=A permanent place|desc=Fontana’s shoe store in Collegetown celebrates its 100th year anniversary of being in business in Ithaca.|link=node|align=left|width=50000|height=106]
Fontana employee Paul Niño is thrilled by the fact that Fontana’s will be reaching the hundred-year mark. Working there for four years, Niño hopes the store continues to thrive because he intends to work for many more years at Fontana’s.
“I absolutely love to work here,” Niño said.
He thinks the upstanding service that Fontana’s provides has been critical to the store’s success over the years. Niño still considers himself the “newbie” since most of his co-workers have been there even longer than he has.
In Niño’s opinion, the primary reason the store does so well is that everyone who works there is dedicated to the store and helping out any customer that comes in. As other shoe stores and local businesses went in and out of Collegetown, Fontana’s remained prosperous due to its commitment to quality and service.
Emma Edmondson, a local teenage resident, said she loves shopping at Fontana’s and keeps coming back because she knows to expect high quality items.
“I’ve had really good experiences with the people who work here, and anytime people need nice shoes and want better quality they come to Fontana’s,” Edmondson said.
Fontana’s wide array of customers includes Cornell faculty and students and devoted local residents who are in search of shoes. Generally, Fontana’s has a balanced customer base of local Ithaca residents and Cornellians, according to Manning.
Manning said that the store sells all types of shoes.
“We sell a little of everything: fashion, European, comfort shoes and more.”
The store also sells other functional items and accessories, including hats, jeans and pants.
Currently, Fontana’s is experiencing its busiest time of the year, which coincides with the start of Cornell’s fall term.