The Village Market normally sells hot dogs (“market dogs”) for $1.25, but this Monday they were sold for their original price of only 50 cents. This steep discount was the result of a joint effort between Vice President for Student Life Bijan Khaghani ’23, the College and the Market’s owners.
In the past, the price of the market dog was consistently 50 cents, but around the time of the 2008 recession, rising food prices drove the dogs to over a dollar. The price dropped in the following years down to 75 cents, but had risen back to $1.25 by the time Khaghani arrived on campus as a first year. Since then, Khaghani has been interested in bringing the market dogs back as an affordable option. “When alumni come back, they always talk about how the market dog was 50 cents and they always talk about, like, this is something that they remember that they could get so much for cheap.” He said that this had interested him since he was a first year, but it was only recently that he saw an opportunity to work toward this goal.
In August of this year, Betsy and Nick Jones purchased the Village Market. As the Joneses started making additions to the Market’s menu, such as acai bowls and pizza, Khaghani became a more frequent customer. Eventually, Khaghani and the Joneses formed a cordial relationship, and Khaghani, the Joneses and Vice President of Student Affairs Celestino Limas began discussing the Market Dog Day. The dogs would be sold at only 50 cents. This was an exciting proposition, as it would help cement the Market into the community and engage students with a growing Gambier business.
Limas noted that Khaghani’s idea appealed to him because it would both enhance students’ experiences with the Market and encourage students to experience an iconic aspect of Gambier’s history. “Bijan Khaghani ’23 approached me with the idea earlier in the fall and I immediately thought it was brilliant,” Limas wrote in an email to the Collegian. “It feeds two birds with the same seed by reviving a tradition in market dogs that had been dormant for a few years, while providing a much needed way for students this fall to come together with residents of the village at a time when exams are just around the corner.”
As Khaghani, Limas and the Joneses discussed moving forward with their vision, they realized that the low price of 50 cents would result in drastic losses for the market because each hot dog costs over a dollar to produce. They reasoned that in order to turn a profit, Market goers would need to buy many more items other than the dogs. However, an anonymous donor associated with the College subsidized the event, making sure the Market at least split even.
In the weeks leading up to Market Dog Day, which was scheduled around finals week, Khaghani started hinting about the event on social media and in Student Council meetings. “If you read the Student Council minutes, there were like secret messages in my minutes,” he said. “I would put a random hotdog or be like, ‘Oh the Village Market is really interesting.’”
Market Dog Day was a massive success. Students were happy to pay the low price and were encouraged to buy additional market goods. “I would pay so much for those hot dogs. I love hot dogs and the fact that they’re already cheap to begin with! That was everything,” Collette Barnett ’25 said. Barnett, along with a few other students, was lucky enough to be served by Khaghani himself, who helped serve the dogs from 11-1 p.m..
Khaghani hopes that this event can begin a new Kenyon tradition and inspire future students. “I feel like my role at Kenyon coming in through my senior year has just been to show people that, if you do it, Kenyon is a place where you can make things possible still, that hasn’t been lost from COVID,” he said. “I hope the market dog stays for a long time.”
Beyond potentially starting a new Kenyon tradition, Market Dog Day proved to be a success for the Joneses. They sold 408 dogs and saw an approximately 200% increase in total sales — a record Monday. “I told Nick that I was like, ‘It feels like almost after Monday [when the acai bowls and pizza were first sold], the Village Market has been kinda like a hangout place, it’s kinda been cool now,” Betsy Jones said. The couple also noted how rewarding it has been to take part in such an iconic part of Gambier and expressed hopes that Market Dog Day could become a tradition.
In the meantime, the Village Market is excited to continue brainstorming new ways to improve student life, either by bringing back beloved Kenyon traditions or by providing new goods and services for the student body. Students and locals are encouraged to visit the Market and to call the store’s new number, 740-233-3003, with any questions or comments.