Comparing Entropy+ prices to other grocery stores and colleges

Based on a sampling of common grocery and household items, campus convenience store Entropy+ prices are consistently higher than other grocery store options, including Giant Eagle, Target, and Aldi.

The items sampled include: ramen noodle cups and packets, pasta, pasta sauce, ketchup, peanut butter, jelly, two percent milk, cereal, Lunchables, Advil, toilet paper, and sandwich bags.

Entropy+’s prices are an average of 178 percent higher than Giant Eagle’s, 239 percent higher than Target’s, and 514 percent higher than Aldi’s.

As far as grocery items, ramen noodles, pasta, and pasta sauce contributed most significantly to these margins.

At Entropy+, one cup of ramen costs $1.19, and one packet costs 59 cents. Giant Eagle prices those items at 39 cents and 29 cents, respectively, and Target charges 29 cents and 27 cents. Aldi sells ramen cups in a pack of six for $1.55, for a unit price of of 26 cents, and ramen packets in a pack of 12 for $1.94, for a unit price of 16 cents.

Entropy+ sells one-pound boxes of pasta for $2.69 and 24-ounce jars of pasta sauce for $4.49. These are $1.19 and $2.19, respectively, at Giant Eagle, $1.24 and $1.59 at Target, and $1.45 and 99 cents at Aldi.

As for household items, toilet paper and Advil were significant.

At Entropy+, a four-pack of quarter-ply toilet paper with 132 sheets per roll costs $2.79. Giant Eagle charges $1.00 for a four-pack of two- ply toilet paper with 150 sheets per roll. Target charges $3.29 for a four-pack of one- ply toilet paper with 1,000 sheets per roll. Aldi charges 59 cents for a four-pack of two ply toilet paper with 150 sheets per roll.

A bottle of Advil with 24 pills costs $6.29 at Entropy+. However, at Giant Eagle, 24 pills cost $3.99, 20 pills cost $3.99 at Target, and 100 generic pills at Aldi cost $1.99.

According to Director of Dining Services Pascal Petter, “Entropy+ is an on-campus convenience store, where Giant Eagle/Aldi are discount supermarket stores and Target is a discount retailer. CulinArt, who operates Entropy+, neither has the same buying power nor receives the volume discounts like the big supermarket stores/retailers. Truly, both operate according to different business models. This explains the price difference between Carnegie Mellon’s on-campus convenience store and the (national/international) multi-store retailers.”

Petter added that, “when comparing Entropy+ to other on-campus convenience stores, like at Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh, prices for common grocery and household products fall in line, or in many cases are cheaper.”

Indeed, Entropy+ products are cheaper in the cases of candy bars like Twix and beverages such as coffee, bottled sodas, and bottled water.

Senior professional writing major Anne-Sophie Kim said, “Entropy+ is the only option when I’m stuck on campus and I’m too busy to take a bus to the grocery store. If I need to pick up groceries or over-the-counter medicines, I have no choice but to spend the extra dollars on it. On a college student’s budget, though, every dollar counts.”