HOME Markets, a student-run international store in downtown Kent, will celebrate the Year of the Dragon at its second-annual Chinese New Year event Saturday from 2-8 p.m. in Acorn Alley.
The celebration will include karaoke, food and games, and a paper sky lantern launch at 7:30 p.m.
Genia Kollie, Kent State senior and HOME Markets co-owner, said the sky lanterns are very popular with students.
“Anytime we have an event, we light up sky lanterns in the sky,” Kollie said. “We hope it’s a tradition we’ve started and a tradition we can keep here in Kent.”
In addition to the sky lantern launch, HOME Markets will give away prizes, including gift certificates to the store.
“I sang two Chinese songs at the event last year,” said Edward Tang, junior economics and managerial marketing major. “I think that it is a really good event and it should be held every year.”
Kollie also said HOME Markets will revamp the store with more foods and products for the Year of the Dragon celebration. The Year of the Dragon occurs every 12 years and includes those students born between Feb. 17, 1988 and Feb. 5, 1989.
She said the celebration will act as a rebirth for the company, which is expecting changes this year.
“One thing that makes us different from a lot of other small businesses is that we’re completely student-run and student-owned,” Kollie said. “There are things we’ve learned we shouldn’t do and things we should have done. It’s trial and error.”
Kollie said the concept for HOME Markets started in Fall 2010 as a requirement for the Entrepreneurial Experience class at Kent State. Kollie and her other co-owners started the business as a place where international students could go to find ethnic products, including food.
“They always say try to find a problem and fix it, so that’s how our idea started,” she said.
Daniela Morey, junior exploratory major, said she regularly shops at HOME Markets to find her basic products.
“I came from California, which is very diverse and on every corner there are stores and restaurants from different cultures,” Morey said. “Coming to Kent, I sadly couldn’t find stores like that anywhere in this town.”
HOME Markets imports many of its products directly from other countries. Kollie said the company also takes product suggestions from shoppers.
“Most of the time if you go to a Giant Eagle and don’t find what you need, you just have to deal with what they have or go on to the next place,” Kollie said. “But what we do, is we take suggestions and try to get people what they want.”
Throughout the year, HOME Markets plans to celebrate more cultural holidays, Kollie said.
“We host a lot of events to try to help expand people so that they have an outlet or way to share their culture as well as at the same time celebrate their own culture,” Kollie said.
Though the company originally started with four student owners, Kollie said one of the changes coming to the business was a different ownership setup. Starting this year, Kollie will have a partnership with one other student, Nick Testa, junior entrepreneurship major.
Currently, HOME Markets does not have regular hours, but Kollie said more permanent hours would be released in the next few weeks.
Kollie said students who are interested in more information about HOME Markets or the Chinese New Year celebration can visit the store at 154 East Main St., Suite D in downtown Kent.
Contact Lyndsey Sager at [email protected]