Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, October 14, 2009
With all due deference to the current homosexuality debate raging within these pages (which surely has joined “The Vagina Monologues,” women in the priesthood and Saint Mary’s bashing as a verbal roshambo with inescapable hurt on both sides), I address a topic which hits a little bit closer to home – in my stomach and wallet. In the Oct. 13 article “Huddle Mart unable to compete with retailers,” Liz O’Donnell attempts to explore the enigma which is the Huddle’s insane price markup which continues Notre Dame’s tendency to fleece their students out of all the money it can. Although I live off-campus and can enjoy the wonder that is Martin’s Supermarkets’ sales specials, the Huddle still remains a convenient purchasing choice while on campus.
I was dismayed to hear the Huddle’s response, characterizing themselves and food services as a beleaguered mom-and-pop shop that can’t compete with big box retailers like Meijer. Well boo-hoo and bull I say to that. First of all, Food Services as a whole has the purchasing power of a small city. Surely their distributors, from whom they purchase the necessary foodstuffs for the dining halls (whose meal prices are another classic Notre Dame bendover tactic), can supply them with the retail items at comparable cost, or at most a bit higher, to “big-box” retailers. Not only does Food Services mischaracterize their size, Mark King tries to justify their insane markup by consoling us with the fact that name-brand medicine prices might be slightly cheaper than CVS’s. Ignoring the fact that name-brand medicine is chemically identical to much cheaper generic alternatives, this small fact in no way compensates for ridiculous 100 percent markup on a bag of Oreos. More frustratingly, the same manager then goes on to explain why the Huddle isn’t affected by the current recession, acknowledging the inherent monopoly they hold on the student body, which ensures they will never need to worry about their bottom-line like grocers on Main St., U.S.A.
Seriously, Food Services, even though I know you won’t change any of your insane pricing policies, in the spirit of Our Lady, at least be honest about it.