Kent State grocery outlets keep eye on competitors

Daniel Hale - Student finance reporter Email at [email protected]

Dining Services’ leaders know you can buy groceries cheaper off campus than you can at Eastway.

But they say they’re not a grocery store; they’re a convenience store.

Richard Roldan, head of Kent State Dining Services, said their retail products are purchased from a middleman distribution company, so prices must be set according to cost.

“Yeah, you can [get cheaper], but we’re like a convenience store. We’ve got these items here for your convenience so you don’t have to drive to Walmart,” Roldan said.

Freshman botany major Elizabeth King uses a dining plan and agrees with Roldan’s assessment.

“I usually shop at Prentice because my dorm’s right there,” King said. “I think they have a good selection, but they could make things cheaper.”

But there are others, like senior biology student Matthew Holcomb, who will make the drive to save money.

“Usually I’ll get groceries from the Walmart or Giant Eagle by my house,” Holcomb said. “It’s cheaper.”

Roldan argues that the prices and savings offered by on-campus outlets are made through careful consideration.

“We get trend reports, not just from the vendors we use … we do a lot of our assessment internally as well,” Roldan said. “If it’s not selling, we take it away. If it sells, we keep it on the shelves.”

With this in mind, consider some of the items commonly bought by students in three Kent grocery stores (Acme Fresh Mart, Save-A-Lot and Circle-K) and compare them to items sold at Eastway Market on campus:





Apples: $1.90 per pound.

Apples: $1.59 per pound.


Apples: .50 per apple.

Cheerios: $4.99 (3 for $9).

Cheerios: $3.29.

Cereal: $3.79 (2 for $6).

Cheerios: $4.99 (3 for $9).

Ramen: .25 (4 for $1).

Ramen: .99.

Ramen: .89.

Ramen: .49.


18 oz Pure Leaf Tea: $1.49.

18 oz Pure Leaf Tea: .79.

18 oz Pure Leaf Tea: $1.89 (2 for $3).

18 oz Pure Leaf Tea: $1.81.

Pringles: $1.89

Family Size Lays Chips: .$2.99.

Pringles: $2.59 (2 for $4).

Pringles: $1.89.

White bread: $2.99.

Bread: $1.79.

White bread: $2.79.

White bread: $2.79.

Food Club Granola Bar 10 Pack: $2.99 (5 for $10).

Granola Bar 10 Pack: $1.79.

Granola Bar 10 Pack: $2.79.

Granola Bar 10 Pack: $2.69.

While there are some variables seen in certain items, there are savings available in most options for students in need of them. Jim Dudlicek, editor-in-chief of Progressive Grocer, said it all depends on what students are most likely to buy.

“Retailers definitely tailor their product selections for a local audience,” Dudlicek said. “At least, the ones that expect to stay in business do. Customization is a leading trend in grocery retailing today, and younger consumers are among the most educated and discerning about food and the story behind those products.”

Teresa Mathis, the assistant director of Dining Services, said they are mindful of the competition.

“We literally take a pad and paper and go to six or eight competitors with a list of our top 25 or top 50 [items]. … We’re certainly not out to gouge students,” Mathis said.