Orange Market: the hub of West Campus

Joe Freedman, Life and Arts Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Feb. 25, 2022 flipbook.

It’s a Friday night in West Campus. As UT students return from classes, the sidewalks fill with murmurs of nighttime plans while music bounces off the exteriors of apartment buildings. The bright lights of Orange Market act as a guiding beacon, inviting students in and illuminating their path home.

“Orange Market is the hub of West Campus,” said Carrington Bond Mauro, a finance junior and Orange Market employee. “The store has everything a UT student might need, whether that be food, drinks or school supplies. For me, the store has an environment of fun because I’m able to catch up with people I know and see what they’re up to.”     

Orange Market, known colloquially within the UT community as “Omart,” is a family-owned convenience store open 24/7. It is located on the corner of San Gabriel and W. 25th streets, and it supplies a variety of goods to students living in the area. Since its opening in 2010, the store, a community success, spawned a second location in 2020 on the corner of San Gabriel and W. 24th streets, just one block away. While the market now stands as an essential landmark of the area, employees said the path to becoming a West Campus landmark involved both trials and tribulations.

Zain, a longtime Orange Market employee who wished to keep his last name private, said since opening, he and his family aim to make Orange Market both an early morning and late-night resource for UT students. 

“We were trailblazers in West Campus,” Zain said. “The campus area looked very different 12 years ago, and there were only a handful of convenience stores. These stores would close at night, making it difficult for students with late classes or work to get what they needed. We decided to keep our store open throughout the night to serve those in the area.”

This “rain or shine” mentality proved crucial in emergency situations. Just as it had during the winter storm in February 2021, the store remained open throughout the recent ice storm in Austin, acting as a reliable option for necessities when iced over roads made it difficult to travel. Orange Market also helped the community stay hydrated throughout Austin’s recent boil water notice by preventatively stocking up on cases of bottled water.  

“It was super stressful,” Bond Mauro said. “The lines were crazy. It felt like 100 people outside of the store. But even when the power’s out and people can’t drink water out of their taps, we’re going to stay open. It is important that we are able to supply people with our products because we want to make sure that everyone at UT is okay.”

Throughout its years of operation, the main thing that has kept Orange Market running is the student-dominated community of West Campus. By offering free coffee in the mornings and flexible hours for student employees, the store strives to give back to those who frequent the store and keep them in business. 

“I go to Omart almost every day,” said Isaac Hendler, an applied learning and development freshman. “They have all the essentials that I need, and the people there are friendly. You can tell that they value their customers and the residents of West Campus.”