Over the summer, LaVerde’s Market reset its shelves, switched up the grill’s sandwich menu, and installed a shiny new beverage section. But along with those changes, the convenience store has upped its prices.
The beverage section got its new f’real smoothie machines and Coca-Cola Freestyle drink machine in mid-August. The touchscreen self-service devices are “state-of-the-art,” said Caroline Trainor, spokesman for LaVerde’s. She said the store is moving into the 21st century: LaVerde’s now has a Twitter, and will be getting a Facebook page and a Foursquare account soon.
Among other changes, the $5 footlongs have been replaced by the “Signature,” “Artisan,” and “Premium” series of sandwiches, in order of increasing price. The new premium “Cuban” and “Reactor” sandwiches are $6.49 each, while the signature options are $4.99.
Those who used to pay $2.50 for any breakfast sandwich are now limited to $2.50 for pre-made sandwiches from 7 to 9:30 a.m., a deal dubbed the “Sunrise Special.” After 9:30 a.m. or for any fresh sandwich, it is $2.99 for a sandwich on a bagel and $3.99 for a croissant.
“It’s just rude,” said Joy S. Ekuta ’13. “I think it’s rude to increase the prices over the summer.” But she says she doesn’t blame LaVerde’s exclusively, noting similar increases at the other vendors in the Student Center. Ekuta, who used to buy breakfast sandwiches at the grill, says she is boycotting the LaVerde’s Market Café. She did purchase a chocolate bar from the store, however.
Sean Buhrmester is not boycotting the sandwiches just yet, but he does say that “I think I did shop here a lot more often prior to the price increase.”
Despite the new prices, during lunch hour the sandwiches still draw lines long enough to deter those who happen to come at the wrong time. Customers are also willing to wait even while no one at the counter is available to take their order.
“I’ve never gotten a sandwich and not liked it,” says Brian Xiao ’15, who ordered a grilled chicken sandwich yesterday. When the prices changed, “I guess I started looking around other places in the Student Center, but I still come here pretty often.”
Francisco X. Peña ’15 also comes to the café about three times a week. He admits that the price changes did not cause him to change his buying habits. Peña and Buhrmester agree that it’s the convenience that brings them back.
“We understand students have a lot going on, so we wanted to make things quick,” Trainor said, motioning towards the self-service beverage station. “Going to CVS or Star Market is difficult,” she said.
Despite the inconvenience that going to Shaw’s presents, it’s no secret that Shaw’s does have a better selection at a lower price. “We will never be the same as Shaw’s,” Trainor said, wary of price comparisons with the competitor further down Mass. Ave. She explained that the convenience store does not have enough storage to buy products cost-effectively in bulk the way Shaw’s does.
“We haven’t taken a lot of increases in the last three years,” she said, defending the price increases. “The market has changed and we have changed with it.”