A closer look at the product prices at Butler’s Plum Market

Plum Market responds to student reactions over price. Photo by Meghan Stratton.

ELLIE ALLEN | ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR |  emallen2@butler.edu 

Since the Nov. 18 opening of Plum Market, many students’ biggest issue with the store has been the pricing of products it sells. Due to this feedback, Plum Market lowered the prices on some items on Dec. 1.

Although prices and products vary across different Plum Market locations, the goal for the company is to carry healthy and dietary restriction-friendly options and support small businesses — which tends to be more expensive. 

Plum Market, which is separate from Bon Appetit, partnered with Bon Appetit to choose the prices and products sold. 

Rachel Cannon, marketing coordinator and public relations for Plum Market, said products and prices are different based on location, space and feedback from customers. 

We adjust our product mix based on guest feedback, particularly during the first six months,” Cannon said in an email to The Butler Collegian. “One of Plum Market’s strengths is that we evolve with market trends and feedback — both direct feedback and in terms of what sells and what doesn’t.”

Cannon also said quality of products impacts the prices that are chosen.

“The most important factor when determining our prices are the prices of the product we’re selling,” Cannon said in the email. “The products we source are the highest quality. In addition, we are focused on supporting small businesses, which sometimes have higher operation costs. We do some comparative shopping while keeping in mind that we need to cover the costs of running the business.”

Some items at Plum Market are slightly more expensive than other area grocery stores, such as Whole Foods and Fresh Thyme, which carry the same items. 

After the price changes made on Dec. 1, a five-ounce bag of Kettle Brand potato chips cost $2.99 at Whole Foods, $2.69 at Fresh Thyme and $3.99 at Plum Market. A six-ounce jar of Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter is $4.99 at Whole Foods, $4.99 at Fresh Thyme and $5.99 at Plum Market. Ben and Jerry’s Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert costs $5.99 at Whole Foods, $5.49 at Fresh Thyme and $7.49 at Plum Market.

Prices are also more expensive for certain hygiene products like toothbrushes. A Tom’s of Maine toothbrush costs $4.29 at Fresh Thyme and $4.89 at Plum Market.

Mandy Rentscheler, marketing manager for Bon Appetit, said Bon Appetit wants everyone to enjoy the prices at Plum Market, so they lowered the prices.

“We want to make sure we are inclusive of everyone in this location,” Rentscheler said in an email to The Butler Collegian. “We noticed there was some room for improvement after that first week. We approached the Plum team and they said they would look into it. They came down Dec. 1 to put those price tags in place.”

Joe Graves, the general manager for Butler Bon Appetit, said he thinks the changes were helpful for students.

“We think that we are more in line now with what Butler students want, but we will keep evaluating and adjusting as we go,” Graves said in an email to The Butler Collegian.

Plum Markets also has stores at Northwestern University and Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.

Oakland University has had a Plum Market on its campus for two years. Jessica Krone, a senior biology major, said she has seen a decline in students eating at the Plum Market this year.

Krone was excited for Plum Market to open, but was disappointed when she tried it.

“I like to eat healthier usually, but when I tried it, it was not up to my expectations at all,” Krone said. “I thought it was very overpriced, and I thought it wasn’t that good of food in general.”

Krone said she has not seen a change in prices or products sold at Plum Market over the past two years. Krone is not aware of any formal complaints to the company, but she has heard many negative reactions from friends. She also believes Plum Market has an impact on the places students study and on incoming students’ opinion of the campus.

“I think we were expecting something great to be there, and I would go there between classes or whatever, but the fact that Plum Market isn’t as great as I thought it would be, I really don’t go to that building anymore at all,” Krone said. “There’s students visiting, and they, like, eat there and might kind of be deterred by the food.”

Karlye Sopczak, a sophomore political science and history major, said she believes Plum Market at Butler is misunderstood.

“It is expensive, I’ll be the first person to say it’s very expensive, but it’s expensive because it’s really healthy options,” Sopczak said. “If you go to these stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Fresh Thyme your products are going to be cheaper, and that’s because the convenience factor is not there.”

Sopczak also said she would like to see a few changes made to accommodate everyone.

“Maybe offer some things like bring back a few elements of the old C-Club to compensate the students who really appreciated that,” Sopczak said.

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