School is expensive. Housing is expensive. Books are expensive. But does food also have to be expensive? Some students believe there exists a culture of overcharging in the University area which exploits their situation as four-year visitors, and one place they feel charges too much is the grocery store.
The Blue Apple, in Bursley Residence Hall on North Campus, charges $5.69 for a box of cereal, $3.19 for a box of Pop Tarts and $4.29 for a package of two bars of soap. LSA senior and Blue Apple employee Nakia Frazier said prices keep rising. She said the price on items the owner knows people will buy is inflated, whereas deals can be found on obscure products that are rarely sold.
Mary Sabin, School of Music sophomore, said the Blue Apple is mainly used as an alternative to the meal plan. If you miss a meal, you can use $4.55 at the Blue Apple, she said, but added that it’s not a good alternative. Apart from unreasonable prices she said, “There’s not a large selection … it’s mostly junk food.”
On the other hand, some students are just happy the store is there, and they use it for emergency situations only. Speaking of the high prices, LSA freshman Kavin Chung said, “That’s the sacrifice you make for not going to dinner. I’m glad that we have it.”
Winter is the season when students have the most trouble getting groceries, especially those who do not live in a residence hall and do not own a car. If someone does not want to pay the higher prices of local stores, he must ride a bus, or several buses, to stores off campus. In addition, the amount of groceries he buys is limited to the quantity he can carry, which amounts to only a few days’ worth of food. But many students do not have the time to shop off campus, nor do they want to wait at a bus stop in the cold. LSA junior Chad Dillard said, “Definitely the cold is a bit of a challenge.” He shops at Village Corner as, “a matter of convenience,” he said.
LSA freshman Charlie Guzak also shops at Village Corner, at South University Avenue and South Forest Street, sometimes. He said groceries cost him four times more on campus than at a store such as Kroger.
Village Corner, charges $1.89 for a half gallon of milk, $2.99 for a gallon, and $1.89 to $2.39 for a loaf of bread. Sgt. Pepper’s, on East University Avenue, charges $2.49 for milk.
So why are prices so high on campus? One reason is that smaller stores cannot buy food in bulk quanties like Kroger can. Kroger spokesman Leonard Terranova said, there is a tremendous difference in bargaining power between a store that buys 500 boxes of cereal as opposed to one that buys three or four boxes.
He explained that smaller stores buy food from wholesalers, unlike Kroger, the largest retail food distributor in the country. In fact, Kroger produces a large variety of its items.
But, students said they would like more grocery stores in walking distance that can offer the same products at the same, if not lower, prices than stores further away from campus. “I’d rather walk to a store than drive,” LSA senior Rachel Kornak said.