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Less Store Display Sparks Debate Over More Store Prices

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

By: Diana Gilday

The Less Store display (Photo by: Patrick Kelly via SUNY Purchase Open Forum)

The More Store is a Purchase favorite for midnight milkshakes and packets of Ramen, but for a few students, the prices are just too high.

The More Store was founded in 2008 with the purpose of offering students microwavable meals, snacks, and ice cream. In the following years, the store expanded and is now comparable to a small grocery store. The store offers everything from pre-made meals and cleaning products, to cosmetic needs such as hair dye.

Earlier this semester a group of visual art students, launched the “Less < Store” display for their Lens and Time class. The display showed the prices of common products found at the More Store and compared them to the same products that can be bought at Target 4 miles away. The display showed that the prices of the items were significantly more expensive at the More Store than at Target.

Group leader, freshman Shyeann Rawson, said that her group collectively agreed that the prices at the More Store were too high.

“We decided that one thing that really irritated us unanimously was the fact that the More Store sells items at much higher prices than places like Target and Stop and Shop do off campus,” said Rawson “They still profit because a lot of us, including myself, at times are just too lazy to go out.”

The group decided rather than just complaining on the open forum, they were going to protest being “ripped off.”

“We went out and bought products that were especially priced high at the More Store and compared the prices at outside stores along with the amount you get at the price you buy it for,” said Rawson.

Items from the More Store that cost more than Target. (Photo by: Patrick Kelly vis SUNY Purchase Open Forum)

The group unveiled in their display just how large the price difference was between the More Store and Target. If a person was to buy a box of Cheerios, they would be charged $5.99 from the More Store, compared to $3.49 at Target. A 7 oz. box of Cheez-Its costs $3.29 at the More Store, where at Target, a 12.4 oz box costs $3.39.

The display evoked a strong response from the student body, with many agreeing they were spending too much.

“I love this,” said Sarah Mueller, a junior stage management major. “The prices at the More Store are so high because it's the only place around.”

Some students provided examples of times they were overcharged at the store.

“I paid 5 dollars for a bag of shredded mozzarella,” said recent graduate Hailey Noel, “I know that costs half as much at ShopRite.”

Many students find it difficult to get off campus and those who live in dorms find it especially hard to cook for themselves. While the More Store can provide easy options, many feel the prices to be exploitative.

“It’s ridiculous,“ said student Trevor Masset “I’m already paying expensive tuition and they want me to pay $6 for cereal?“

The More Store however, is not unique to SUNY Purchase. According to a survey by YPulse, as of 2018, 79 percent of college students say they buy food from on campus convenience stores, rather than going to the grocery store. More and more college campuses are opening convenience stores on their campuses for this very reason.

The way a college convenience store works however, is quite different than a grocery store and more comparable to a gas station or CVS.

“Now, if you were comparing our general grocery section to comparable markets like gas station convenience stores, Wawa, 7-11 or even CVS, you would see our prices or very comparable, if not cheaper,” said Joseph Smeraglino, manager of the More Store. “Because of our location, students may use us as a grocery store, which we hope for, but you would never go shopping at Exxon, Mobil or CVS, but you are forced to at times here.”

Entrance to the More Store. (Photo by: Victoria Fennell)

Since the More Store is not an actual grocery store, or a big retail store like Target, they cannot purchase items the way these larger stores do, which leads to higher prices.

“The perception that we are ‘unfair’ or ‘ripping off students’ means to me that people that have this thought process must think that we are getting, say a box of Cheerios, at the same price as Target, which cannot be further from the truth,” said Smeraglino. “Target might only pay $1 for a box of Cheerios, where we are paying say $4. We have to charge more because we pay more to get it”

The More Store is also at a disadvantage because they cannot purchase items in bulk like a larger retail store. The store is too small to support massive amounts of product and therefore, cannot buy massive amounts in a singular purchase. Buying bulk saves money and since the store is unable to do such, the prices are higher.

“Overall, with any pricing anywhere, it comes down to supply and demand. Target, Walmart, bigger grocery stores have a bigger demand and buying power than we do. They buy thousands and thousands or products at a time, have tractor trailers in and out of their distribution centers around the clock,” said Smeraglino. “ I just ordered 6 boxes of Cheerios for tomorrow. I can say confidently that Target has never ordered 6 of anything.”

In addition to not being able to purchase items in bulk, the More Store also has to go through multiple suppliers, compared to Target which only has to go through one. Going through multiple suppliers raises the prices of items because each supplier needs to raise the price in order to make a profit, according to Smeraglino.

“Now, being a convenience store, we have to order through a supplier that offers many of these grocery items. The supplier may make the purchases of Cheerios through General Mills or through another bigger supplier, so it may go through 3 chains before coming to The More Store,” said Smeraglino. “General Mills can than obviously not give the same price to Target or Walmart as they can to a supplier that purchases such a smaller fraction of product.”



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