R2 Market: A Showcase of Student Ideas

James Sexton-Holtmeier, Staff Writer

On Dec. 10, 2021, the creators of the up and coming R2 Market hosted their first ever event. With eight vendors and a profit of roughly $1500, it is fair to say that the pilot was a major success for the company and founders Rob Israel, Rhett Adams and Natalie Rong. The pilot took place in the Thought Into Action (TIA) hub on Utica Street and lasted around two hours. One of the most unique aspects of the R2 Market is that they bring in a very diverse group of vendors: From stations selling homemade honey to handmade clothing, the market really has something for everyone.   

The original plan for the R2 Market was to create a brick and mortar market that would be a food court and farmer’s market under one roof, where the vendors in the food court would use ingredients from the farmers selling there, forging a mutually beneficial community. When the founders realized it was not feasible to open a brick and mortar shop as students, they decided to shift their perspective into more of an enduring campus tradition. The vision for the R2 Market shifted into a space on campus where students can showcase their new ideas and side businesses.

“We are trying to have these markets on Colgate’s campus once or twice a semester, where we can show off student entrepreneurs or side businesses to other students ideally,” Israel said.

The tentative plan moving forward is to have another event like the pilot later on this semester. The team is hoping to collaborate with student performers and create an event with live music, food and other new and interesting vendors. Part of what makes this market so special is its fluidity; each time that R2 hosts an event it will likely look very different. Furthermore, as the project gains recognition, many more students will have the opportunity to present their passions.  

Though Israel is a senior, the team’s future is in good hands, since Adams is a junior and Rong is a sophomore. R2 Market hopes to become something that can be passed down to live on at Colgate for years to come. In the future, the team believes that the market can become an essential part of the community on campus.

“The whole goal is to try to engage the community with one another in a different sense.  This is a central theme where there are different outlets associated with it, whether it’s clothes or food. It’s cool that a first-year and a senior can come together,” Israel said.

The vendors at the pilot were appreciative of the opportunity that R2 provided — many of them were frustrated that there was no outlet like this marketplace in the past. One of the vendors, sophomore Izzy Olavarria, was very pleased that she was finally able to display her business, “Words by Izzy O,” to the Colgate community. 

“My business has been successful at Colgate, but the customers usually have to reach out themselves over Instagram, whereas the R2 Market gave me the opportunity to sell to customers in a way I never have before. I would love if the market happened again, it was a great way to bring the community together and support small businesses,” Olavarria said.

Everything seems to be going well for R2, but the team is not entirely satisfied. Though the primary goal of the market is to build a sense of community and give students an outlet for their side businesses, overall profit is also an important factor.

“We’d like to try to build it up more. We’re thinking of how we can make it more profitable because as a marketplace it is difficult. The other vendors are still small themselves, so we need to find the middle ground of how to make R2 money, but also give them the fair amount that they deserve,” Rong said.

Although their work may not be finished, R2 Market has done a very good job of getting their name out there. After a successful pilot, R2 has gotten the attention of  Colgate students, and it will be exciting to see what else they have in store for the rest of the semester.