Geneseo students often say they enjoy the college's small size because of the relationships they build with faculty and the sense of a closely-woven community – now they can add to that list being the flagship for a burgeoning social retail website. College Town Traders recently selected Geneseo to be one of two schools nationwide to launch its new web design in spring 2011.
Dave Cooper, a member of Geneseo's Marketing Club, described the website, collegetowntraders.com, as "an online marketplace like Craigslist, [except] it focuses on small colleges." The marketing club was selected by the creators of the site to conduct market research on campus while the site was being developed.
At present there are approximately 20 posts on Geneseo's College Town Trader site offering everything from sublets to "Sex in the City" DVDs. The prices are reasonable – a dresser for $20, a sofa for $40 – and sometimes border on unbelievable – an HP printer/scanner/copier for $50.
It's obvious from the site that user response is highly sought after by the designers. There are fields for general inquiries, new features, category requests and school nicknames. "We know students don't want to work hard to operate a site," the creators wrote on the site. "Hell, we didn't want to work hard to build this thing, but someone has to make life easier for you."
Co-creator Mark Lozzi said he and his partner Mike Novak are hiring an outside professional to make the site more attractive, user friendly and "sexier." "It's not cutting edge tech – it's just something servicing an underserviced market," Lozzi explained.
An alum of SUNY Oswego, Lozzi said he understands how difficult it can be to connect with undergraduate students for intra-campus commerce. "I knew a lot of people," he said. "But I wasn't friends with a lot of people, so I could [only do things like] ask ‘Jeremy do you need a couch?'"
The site is currently open to over 4,000 schools across the U.S. and Canada, but Lozzi said most of the pages will soon close down, making Geneseo one of two target markets. He said College Town Traders experienced "the most commitment [at Geneseo] from the student body."
The marketing club has definitely shown commitment through this process, with three divisions working on different aspects of the venture: market research, product development and public relations.
Cooper said market research has conducted surveys to determine what Geneseo students want in the site while product development is working on campaign strategies for site growth, such as slogans. Public relations has orchestrated events such as happy hours before hockey games where members hand out beer pong balls with the site's name.
"Collegetowntraders.com is new," Cooper said, "but they're a legitimate startup with a good idea, and we think we can help them reach their target market, because we are their target market – college kids."
The site's management hopes to expand in the future, but right now, they want to focus on small college towns and Geneseo specifically. "We chose Geneseo for a reason," Lozzi said, "and we're going to stick with it."