Price of a burger: $5 Price of mozarella sticks: $4 Price of a Coke: $2 Time spent with a hole in your pockets: Priceless!!

    Sigh.  As my stomach leads my feet to the Bison for its daily fill, the only thought running through my mind is not how delicious this food will be, but rather how deep will I have to go into my pockets today in order to satisfy my hunger.  It is amazing how much money you can spend on food a day when you actually keep track of it.  Moreover, food in the Bison costs an arm and a leg, which definitely does not make matters any better. 

    I often hear chatter about how a Bison plan is better because it is cheaper, more selection and the food is better.  Although this may seem true at first glance, it actually is not because Bison food sucks and you end up paying more in the end.  For example, if you were to get a plan with $1500 for 4 1/2 months (August through middle of December).  Let’s say you would eat 3 times a day for this time period.  Although the average is higher, let’s just say it is $8 a meal.  So you have 4.5 months x 28 days to get 126 total days that you will have to eat.  One hundred twenty-six days x 3 meals a day is 378 total meals.  Three hundred seventy-eight meals x $8 a meal = $3024.  So now you can actually see that although a Bison plan seems appealing, you actually end up paying more than a silver meal plan in the cafe that allows unlimited meals, which costs between $2,000-$2,500.  I think it is ridiculous that we are faced with high-quality prices for low-quality food.

    So Bryce, are you saying that every student should get a cafe plan?  Why that’s a good question and I’m glad you asked.  Personally, I believe either two things should happen:  the Bison can start serving better food for its current prices, or lower its current prices to compensate for the current quality of food that it prepares.  As an athlete, I recommend the cafe plan because you can eat however much you want at any given meal.  Also, the cafe is open an hour longer than the Bison.  As far as food quality goes, I noticed that our cafe wins a bunch of awards but I just can’t see why.  However, as it is with all competitions, you are judged as good only in relation to your competitors.  So for example, if the people that the cafe is competing with has very low-quality food, then our cafe only has to be a little better in order to be the best.  I would recommend eating off campus, but since this is not feasible for all students, the cafe is the best bet.

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One Response to Price of a burger: $5 Price of mozarella sticks: $4 Price of a Coke: $2 Time spent with a hole in your pockets: Priceless!!

  1. baudolino says:

    The more I read about what you guys are saying, the more perplexed I am. So on one hand you have an artificial monopoly (Parkhurst) who negotiated exclusivity over the entire campus with respect to food/beverages (that’s why Greek chefs can’t serve food anymore at various events). In addition, you’re locked in to this monopoly by having to opt for a meal plan. On the other hand you have a lethargic entrepreneurial community in Lewisburg.

    Seems to me there’s a pretty big arbitrage opportunity here.

    Or, if no one’s interested in starting their own off-campus business, think about what kind of incentives you guys can come up with, to induce the current business owners to deliver at night. (Perhaps a minimum order commitment? That is, pool together 5-10 people and place a $100 food order?)

    Bryce, if I may, a little comment on your observation on competition. What you say works only if companies are competing on certain attributes that everyone agrees that having more is better than having less (“quality” is one of these things, since generally everyone agrees that having more quality in a product/service is better than having less quality.) This is called “vertical differentiation”, and so in a vertical market you are absolutely correct. If all your competitors provide X quality, then all you need is to move to X+z (z>0 but very very small), and so you’ll capture the market. In contrast, a horizontal market (or “horizontal differentiation”) means that the competition is based on the sheer number of different products that companies put on the market (think McDonald vs. Wendy’s), and “a little better” is hard to define. In that environment, people randomly choose one or the other, depending on their particular needs or idiosyncrasies.

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