Following the residential additions made to the Circle Apartments complex, Ithaca College Dining Services has opened the Circles Market to accommodate the needs of new residents.
The store, which opened Jan. 22, joins Mac’s and Sub Connection as a third on-campus convenience store, providing groceries and essentials for students on the far side of campus. The Circles Market will mix aspects of these stores, as well as La Vincita, into one location at the Circle Apartments.
Jeff Scott, general manager of Sodexo at the college, said the store has been in the planning stages for a few years, but the plan was finally carried out when the college started to expand housing in the Circles Apartments.
“[For] consumers today, it’s all about convenience,” said Scott. “If something’s right in your path you’re more inclined to use it. We saw an opportunity to better serve the community.”
The Circle Apartments currently house more than 600 students in 128 separate apartments. The school is currently constructing 31 new apartments, which would increase Circles residencies by about 25 percent.
Scott said he could not comment on the cost of the Circles Market.
Many students who live in the apartments, such as Junior Bill Connors, would normally have to venture off campus to get the items they need. This could have been a burden, as the nearest grocery stores, Wegmans and Tops, are more than two miles away from campus.
“It’s very convenient, especially for people who don’t have a car,” said Connors. “Not having a car, I would normally go to Mac’s or Campus Center.”
The layout and features of the Circles Market were decided based on feedback from two surveys sent out last spring. The surveys asked students about their favorite grocers off-campus, what hours students would most likely visit the store, and which food products would be most favorable. According to Scott, one of the surveys received about 800 responses.
The store is currently stocked with a variety of drinks, snacks and basic cooking supplies. However, the store is also stocked with microwaveable dinners, made daily at La Vincita and Terraces Dining Hall, that can be cooked at the store with a Turbochef oven.
Paninis, toasted subs and fresh rotisserie chicken will be added soon, Scott said. Students can purchase products from the store with Bonus Bucks, I.D. Express, debit, credit or cash.
The store is also stocked with a f’real blender — a milkshake and smoothie machine that operates by touch screen, allowing students to choose the flavor and thickness of their drink. Though frozen beverages are sold elsewhere on campus, the machine lets students blend the drinks themselves.
“We wanted to have some kind of sweet, indulgent snack that was easy and on-demand,” Scott said. “A lot of students have been using it.”
Though the store opened two weeks ago, its grand opening will be held soon. Since it is still new, many aspects of it are subject to change. One example is the store’s hours, which are 4:30 to 10:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday.
Scott said Sodexo believed these dinnertime hours would be most effective for the Circles community, but could change in the future.
“We thought Sunday through Thursday nights were more traditional nights,” Scott said. “We weren’t having to compete with downtown on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Other aspects that could be added to the Circles Market are cooking demos and classes, depending on students’ reactions and traffic to the store. Student employees will also be given shifts at the Circles Market soon, depending on the need.
Some students, like Senior Shannon
McGuinness, said the store is a convenient addition to the community.
“If you’re studying, it’s nice to be able to get coffee somewhere,” McGuinness said. “It’s a nice addition to the community center.”
However, since the store is new, not many people have been able to stop by. Connors said the store is convenient, but not really necessary.
“The idea is awfully convenient,” he said. “I was more or less for it, but I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to say we should need one.”
As the store expands, Scott said, he expects at least 100 students per night. Though students are split on the necessity of the store, some, like senior Ben Cohen, are neutral on the subject of the new store.
“For where it is and the size, it’s nice to have,” said Cohen. “There was nothing there before, so it’s better than nothing.”