Almost everyone has complained about the price of food on campus at least once. Is the price of on-campus food really that much more expensive? Is it really worth the price of driving to the local Walmart or Target, approximately four to six miles away, instead? Or does the price in gas make up the difference in food prices?
An employee in the C-Store said, “We are very competitive with our prices,” when asked about price comparisons to the nearby 7-Eleven and Walmart. Although the prices of many items are roughly similar to those at 7-Eleven, although generally a few cents more, a majority of the prices at Walmart are nearly half the price.
For example, a box of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes breakfast cereal costs $4.99 at the C-Store, $4.49 at 7-Eleven, and only $2.98 at Walmart. An 18-ounce container of Jif Peanut Butter costs $4.95 at the C-Store, $3.19 at 7-Eleven, and $2.22 at Walmart. A 14-ounce container of Chips Ahoy costs $5.10 at the C-Store, $4.79 at 7-Eleven, and $2.50 at Walmart. Including pints of ice cream, Campbell’s soup, Chef Boyardee, Del Monte canned vegetables, crackers, pasta and more, almost everything else costs less at 7-Eleven and noticeably less at Walmart.
One of the few items comparable everywhere is a bottle of pop. One bottle of a favorite caffeinated drink costs only two cents less at Walmart, making the C-Store price much more reasonable. Other drinks seemed to be much more costly: Velda Farms milk is noticeably cheaper if you simply walk across the street to 7-Eleven. While a gallon will put you out $5.19 at the C-Store, the exact same gallon can be bought for $3.89 at 7-Eleven. For people who prefer bottled water, a six-pack of water is approximately $5.95 at the C-Store. A 20-pack of Nestle water can be bought at 7-Eleven for $3.99, and a 28-pack of Ice Mountain can be bought at Walmart for only $3.98.
Non-food items are just as bad, if not worse. A 16-load container of liquid Tide costs $7.95 in the C-Store and $6.99 at 7-Eleven. A 32-load container of the same liquid tide only costs two cents more at Walmart – a mere $7.97. For only a dollar more, a three-pack of Puffs tissues can be bought at Walmart for the price of one box at the C-Store. Ziploc Bags, Reynolds Wrap and other products have similar discrepancies.
After being shown a lot of these prices, students on campus were astonished and sometimes even angry. A common response from these students was, “I feel like I am really being ripped off!” No one seemed to understand the massive discrepancy in the prices or where the rest of that money was going. One female student stated, “I know the C-Store is not going to match Walmart, but so many items are double the price! Something about that just seems wrong.”
If your parents prefer to add money to your meal plan or Tar Buc$ account rather than give you cash then the C-Store may still be the obvious choice.
It still offers the most convenience and a greater variety of items than the 7-Eleven on Park does. That said, if you do not have a meal plan and therefore have to spend “real” money at the C-Store, try grocery shopping off campus. You will probably end up saving half your money.
Want to know why the food costs so much more on campus? Make sure to check out next week’s issue of The Sandspur for an interview with General Manager of Dining Services Gerard Short on food pricing.