The Rustlers of retail

Students ought to call the shots in overpriced campus shops

Convenience is a mixed blessing. Take microwaveable meals: they’re tasty, quick and require a minimum amount of effort to prepare. However, they have made the people of Great Britain obese, flatulent, lazy and chronically poor at cooking for themselves.

Market Square, and in particular Costcutter, is the Rustlers Burger of the retail market; it wins prizes for neither appearance nor value. The upper half of the complex is a desolate set of battered, empty buildings, with Stationery Box soon to be included in this landscape. Below, Costcutter’s mascot in a bowl cut: the six-foot high head of a young boy, jaws open, daring you from behind glass to approach and sample his questionable wares.

Of course, aesthetics aren’t everything. So what about cost-effectiveness? Perhaps a sample of price comparisons would prove useful here.

In Tesco, a 450g box of Rice Krispies is 87p. Costcutter will charge you £1.99 for the same product.

Mushrooms are £3.65/kilo in Costcutter, but a mere £2.28/kilo in Sainsburys.

However, this is positively generous on Costcutter’s part compared to its spaghetti. Priced at only 30p for 500g in Budgens, it retails at 95p for the same amount in Costcutter. That is a mark-up of more than 300% for a product of exactly the same quality, and for what reason?

Market forces, children. Costcutter opens during the holidays, and as there are so few students around during these periods of time, the demonic blond boy plastered on the front of the store and his ilk make very little profit.

The solution? I propose that we scrap Costcutter, and simply retain Blackwells, which could be extended upstairs, whilst incorporating groceries into the existing Your:Shop. Contracts with local businesses, like butchers and vegetable farmers, could be used to supply fresh local produce to the university, thereby creating a sustainable link with the community.

Meat would be provided which didn’t look a uniform grey colour regardless of the animal it came from! Vegetables wouldn’t rot on the way home! Being entirely student run, closure during the holidays would be a viable option, or else opening hours could be significantly reduced.

Surely convenience and quality are not mutually exclusive on campus?

One comment

  1. This is something which forms part of an extension idea for Your:Shop to provide fresh fruit and vegetables where possible on a daily basis. See latest edition of Nouse RE: JuiceBar.

    There is a reason however why various units are empty and shop prices are high – the rents that are charged by the University for these units are (in my opinion) making it very difficult for traders to do business at a ‘student price’.

    Matt

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