By Nadine Tester
The first time I bought my textbooks from the Rider University Store, I was appalled. Hundreds of dollars on books for core classes that I would never need to open again? Being naïve, I thought that the stores on campus would give students a break when it came to things we needed.
After my first semester, I found other ways to get my books for an affordable rate, but I never got over that initial shock of such steep prices. I’ve come to realize that textbooks are not the only highly priced items on campus. You just need to look in the C-Store or Java City to see where all your disposable income is going.
Prices for ordinary items like school supplies and medicine are higher than prices usually found in stores like Shop Rite and Wal-Mart. Advil and Tylenol costs are a good $2 or $3 more than the prices found in Shop Rite. A 50 tablet bottle of regular strength Advil is $5.79 at the University Store, but at Shop Rite it’s $3.99, or less if it’s on sale. Rider seems to want to rob its students blind, especially when it comes to over-the-counter medicine. Robitussin is $6.99 at the University Store; at most other stores it is $4.99. And at Shop Rite, Chloraseptic is $4.99; at the Rider University Store it is $2 more.
Beauty supplies like shampoo and razors are also overpriced at both the Rider Store and the C-Store. Bottles of Herbal Essences and Sunsilk shampoos are $5.29 each at both the stores, but on the shelves at supermarkets you can find it for $3.99 or for even less at Wal-Mart or Target.
I never really shopped in the Rider University Store for things that I needed in my dorm room. I have a car on campus that I could use to pick up necessities, and when I didn’t feel like driving, the C-Store is always a short walk away.
Last semester I even bought two bottles of shampoo from the C-Store, which I charged to my Bronc Bucks. I didn’t notice then how costly it was compared to buying it in a supermarket. However, I immediately realized how expensive things were when I went to shop in the University Store, because I was paying cash, not just swiping a card.
Supermarkets are well-known for having weekly sales that bring down their prices significantly, but the University store should work toward making everyday items more affordable for students who live on campus. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to run out at the drop of a hat to pick up emergency cold medicine.
When the Rider University Store does have sales, like the upcoming Leap Day Sale, it excludes health and beauty items. With all the headaches this school provides, it could at least discount the Advil.
On the other hand, it’s understandable that the University store doesn’t have weekly sales. Big stores, like those I’ve mentioned, attract huge crowds, who do their monthly shopping and help keep prices down for other shoppers. These huge crowds also help the stores maintain a healthy profit month-to-month.
The stores on campus are, like any other business, trying to turn a profit. However, students are already paying a hefty fee to take classes, eat food in the dining halls and, in some cases, live on campus.
If the on-campus stores are having a hard time making a profit, they shouldn’t turn to overpricing items on their shelves, but instead, sell their products at a competitive price, which would attract more buyers. In doing so, students will probably still purchase their month’s worth of groceries at a supermarket, but at least they won’t feel like they’re being cheated the next time they buy a bottle of Advil.