HDH derails the businesses they onboard, and Sunshine Market is its next victim

HDH derails the businesses they onboard, and Sunshine Market is its next victim
Image by Hana Tobias for The UCSD Guardian

Sunshine Market is a convenience store located in the lower east wing of Price Center. The market is a small, non-profit organization that has informally been named a staple of the UC San Diego community. 

Unfortunately, its presence on campus is being threatened as UCSD officially declared that it will be on-boarding Sunshine Market to Housing Dining Hospitality in fall 2024. While campus’ four HDH markets offer a decent selection of products and their “Just Walk Out” technology has proven to be quite convenient, the HDH organization is only interested in profits, looking past the sense of community small businesses foster. Now, the HDH takeover of yet another small business will take a toll on the UCSD community. 

UCSD has very few small businesses on campus and has actively sought to convert them into university-affiliated, profitable businesses. This transition has worked somewhat effectively in the past as the university has merged Audrey’s Cafe with HDH. Unfortunately, student and faculty reactions to this were less than positive, explaining the various ways HDH ran the cafe into the ground. When Audrey’s was taken over, many customers and employees reported a major decline in product quality, with claims of the coffee being undrinkable and teas being a money-waster. Grouped under the “dining hall” section of the Student Satisfaction Survey along with all other HDH-run food facilities, the cafe is now included in a strikingly low 3.09/5 rating for quality. 

In addition to the altered quality of products, HDH also considered removing staple ingredients of the cafe for the sake of convenience and saving money. The lavender syrup that many customers enjoyed adding to their drinks was supposed to be removed from the menu because of availability and expense. This infuriated regular customers at the cafe, as Audrey’s was the only cafe at the time offering the syrup. Luckily, the decision was overruled because of this reaction, and HDH management decided to keep it on board to meet customers’ demands. However, even considering the removal of such an integral part of the menu simply to save the hassle speaks volumes as to where HDH’s priorities lie.

Unfortunately, product dissatisfaction is not the only fault customers attributed to this HDH takeover. The inefficiency and overburdened nature of the new ordering system, Triton2Go, has also reached their radar, displaying HDH’s constant mismanagement of their businesses. Customers emphasized that wait times at the cafe suddenly became excruciatingly long, waiting up to an hour to receive their order. Some described workers who look immeasurably overwhelmed trying their best to keep up with both the Triton2Go and in-person foot traffic. This new ordering method implemented by HDH was intended to up customer orders and boost profits, but the organization disregarded the toll it left on the community.

 

Ironically enough, HDH’s management intended to improve the cafe but instead derailed its reputation, fostering yet another poorly rated university-run business. Now, Sunshine Market could very likely meet a similar fate. The market’s supply of diverse goods will certainly be monotonized to fit the standards of the other HDH markets, meaning that students will receive yet another establishment offering the exact same goods. Many UCSD students have voiced their concerns regarding this online, explaining that the flashy, unique products of Sunshine Market made it a more preferable place to shop. They furthered this by saying that the fact that Sunshine was not affiliated with HDH was reason enough to shop there.

Furthermore, HDH plans to implement ‘Just Walk Out’ technology in the Sunshine Market. Though the results of this won’t be nearly as catastrophic as Audrey’s ordering system, this quick and easy method for purchasing items in the store will still yield a loss of personal connection felt by customers. Many have claimed that their small interactions with the market’s workers made them feel welcome and comfortable in the store’s space, and that Sunshine Market was one of the few stores on campus where workers appeared personable from the music they played. 

This small sense of comradery is not only felt by students, but by visitors as well. When visitors come to the UCSD campus, they are far more likely to feel more comfortable in a community-based environment with interaction from campus “natives” over the bleak and intimidating greetings from systems that directly stifle communication with those around them. HDH has proven that they cultivate the latter environment while small businesses, like Sunshine Market, perfectly align with the former. If the market were to stay a small business, UCSD could uphold this environment and foster a comfortable space for all.

Students do not support an HDH-run Sunshine market, as it’s destined to become yet another mediocre and monotonous market of the HDH system. HDH fails to foster the same sense of community that has made small businesses a pinnacle to the campus community. With this profit-driven entity taking over Sunshine Market, it will lose business, and it is widely understood that our community will bear the burden of a great loss.

 

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About the Contributors
Jordan Nakagawa
Jordan Nakagawa, Staff Writer
i complain
Hana Tobias
Hana Tobias, Photographer
Hana is a fourth year Cognitive Science major.
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