New campus micro-market ignites mixed feelings among students

When students returned to campus this semester, many were surprised to see the Fishbowl, the beloved C-wing lounge, looking quite different from how they remembered it. Where before there were vending machines and an unblocked view out the windows now sits a brand new micro-market.

As students and faculty alike discovered the new setup during the first week back, sounds of excitement and confusion filled the lounge, no matter the time of day. While the shelves and coolers of snacks, drinks and sundry goods with a self-checkout kiosk are tucked away to one side, it’s hard to miss with its floor-to-ceiling placement. 

While this isn’t the first addition of a micro-market on campus – that came back in September in the Pavilion — this may be many people’s first exposure. The arrangement certainly caught people’s attention, with many who passed through the lounge stopping to investigate.

Dr. Michael Yankovich, vice president for operational and administrative integration, explained that adding a second micro-market has always been a part of the college’s plan to replace the convenience store in partnership with dining service provider, Sodexo.

“We selected a location that is large enough to accommodate a wide variety of products, that is accessible from early morning to late in the evening, and that is convenient for the entire community,” he stated over email.

Ramapo’s new mini-marts have raised many questions among the student body. Photo by Amalie Hindash

Some students, such as sophomore Elizabeth Magella, are fans of the change.

“I love what they did with the place… I feel like it’s a better environment because you’re surrounded by all your favorite snacks,” she said in an interview. “It’s an easier way of just going to a vending machine.”

Others are not so enthused. Junior Joseph McDermott believes that the Fishbowl is not the best location for the market, citing that it’s too close to other campus dining options, namely the Atrium, where similar goods are offered. He also dislikes that the market covers up half of the Fishbowl’s windows.

Yankovich expressed a similar sentiment about the micro-market’s placement in the Fishbowl. 

“I personally am a little disappointed that we had to partially block the view, but there was no other location that had as much space and provided so much convenience for the members of our community,” he stated.

While freshman Madison Ciurciu sees value in the market’s convenience, she isn’t impressed by the food selection.

“I wish there was more of a grab-and-go of small sandwiches or a salad, something like that, instead of just a snack,” she said. “I wish it was more… healthier options.”

The largest question that seems to be on students’ minds regarding the micro-market, however, is about how the market will function with no oversight in such a high-traffic area. More bluntly, how will they prevent and handle theft?

McDermott takes it as a good sign that the college is entrusting students, but Ciurciu thinks it may not be the best idea. 

“The first thing that came to my head was, ‘How are they not catching that people are stealing?’ because I’ve seen a few people grab without paying,” she said.

Both micro-market locations are electronically monitored through a camera on the self-checkout kiosk and other cameras nearby, which is noted through signage.

Assistant Vice President of Business Services and Controller Frank Di Pentima, who has a hand in the market’s operations, shared that so far he is “very pleased with how shrinkage is tracking.”

Shortly after the market’s opening, the kiosk was temporarily out of order because of a technical issue, leaving students unable to purchase items from the market. Di Pentima shared that, during that time, someone had left cash to pay for an item they took.

“The kiosks do not accept cash payments, but this is a great indication of the integrity we see from our community,” he stated in an email.

While there are no immediate plans for any other micro-markets locations on campus, Yankovich shared that the college is thinking about how to expand offerings in the Bradley Center.

Di Pentima also encourages feedback on how to expand and improve offerings at the micro-markets and is especially looking into foods for specific dietary needs. 

“One thing I would like to do is to post a suggestion box where our community can leave their comments and thoughts about their experiences at the micro-markets,” he stated.


Featured photos by Amalie Hindash