The Dunkin’ Donuts in the Tillman Lobby is charging up to twice as much for some of its items than other local locations.
Pipe Dream compared the prices of 90 of the same menu items on campus, across the street on Vestal Parkway and at the corner of Main and Schiller streets on the West Side in the city of Binghamton. We found that 60 of the 90 items were more expensive on campus than at both locations. Just 10 were cheaper on campus than in both locations.
Iced coffee, bagels and fruit-flavored iced tea have some of the largest price discrepancies among locations.
If you purchase a medium iced coffee twice a week from the Tillman Lobby location, you can expect to pay $42 more over the 15-week semester than if you’d gotten your fix at the Main Street location and $39 more than if you’d made your purchase at the Vestal Parkway location.
It costs $11.99 for half a dozen bagels (without cream cheese) on campus, but just $5.99 at the Vestal Parkway location and $6.79 at the Main Street location.
According to Tom LaSarso, Binghamton University Dining Services general manager of retail operations, Dunkin’ Donuts set the prices.
“We don’t play a role in that, so I wasn’t aware of [the price differences],” he said.
The owners of the campus location, Santina Christian and Ben Vanderlinde, ‘84, own nine other Dunkin’ Donuts locations in the area. Christian said multiple factors contribute to the higher prices on campus, including the cost of higher-quality materials.
“We brought in more compostable/biodegradable items at an increased cost stepping away from the traditional polystyrene foam cups one would typically see in other locations,” she wrote in an email.
Christian also pointed to a more complex operating system and increased labor demands as responsible for driving prices upward.
“Operating on campus also comes with different expenses that we do not typically encounter much like other unique locations such as an airport, etc.,” she wrote.
The opening of the Tillman Lobby location is not Dunkin’ Donuts’ first appearance on campus. The company is also a corporate sponsor of Binghamton University Athletics, meaning it receives advertising at games and other events in exchange for paying for some of athletics’ costs.
The decision to bring Dunkin’ Donuts to campus, which was made in 2015, spelled the end of the Bearcat Cafe in the Marketplace, which served Starbucks products.
According to LaSarso, Dunkin’ Donuts’ contract includes a non-compete clause, which stipulates that no competitors can operate within a certain number of feet of the new location.
LaSarso said the Bearcat Cafe been temporarily replaced by a “grab-and-go” station that opened on Tuesday at 11 a.m. The station offers drinks, chips and vegan and gluten-free sandwiches and will be open until a permanent replacement for the Bearcat Cafe is decided upon.
Although the Starbucks is no longer in business, coffee isn’t gone from the Marketplace altogether.
“While the free-standing Bearcat Cafe location is no longer as it was, we still offer Starbucks coffee at Cakes & Eggs,” LaSarso said.
Breanna Langett, a sophomore majoring in history, said she wasn’t a fan of the higher prices at the new Dunkin’ Donuts, but would still come to the location for its convenient location.
“[The prices] are probably high because both the company and school have to get their revenue,” she said, waiting in the 20-person-deep Dunkin’ Donuts line on Wednesday morning. “They also know students will pay higher prices.”