Forbes Street Market: Is It Worth Shopping There?

Forbes Street Market, the new Pitt-owned grocery store, just recently opened its doors to us hungry students. Since Oakland lacks grocery stores and the university convenience stores have limited produce and deli items, this market is aimed at solving these problems as well as providing students with another alternative to the dining halls.

In light of this exciting addition to campus, I figured I had to check it out for myself. As a student living in an on-campus apartment-style residence hall, I ditched the meal plan so I could buy groceries and cook in my kitchen. I usually go grocery shopping each weekend at Giant Eagle in Squirrel Hill, but this past weekend I decided to go to Forbes Street Market to weigh its pros and cons against a typical grocery store. My budget is $50 per week and considering that many items are over-priced at the university convenience stores, I was curious to see if I could get a reasonable amount of groceries for the week while staying under budget. I broke down my review into the three categories that most would consider when grocery shopping: convenience, products and economic value.

Convenience

Forbes Street Market is located on Forbes Avenue across from David Lawrence Hall, a very central location for students. I enjoyed being able to take a short walk down Forbes Avenue rather than wait for a bus to take me to Giant Eagle. If you need something for a last-minute dish or are looking for a few staple items for your pantry, it’s great that the store is only a hop, skip and a jump away from your residence hall. For those who live off-campus, you can pick something up in between classes without having to schedule in time to commute to a grocery store. The market is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Products

Granted, the market isn’t massive like a commercial store, so variety is limited. It does cover the basics: produce, deli meats and cheeses, breads, dry goods, snacks and refrigerated and frozen items. There’s even a little bakery section next to the registers. If you’re missing meals like Mom makes, it sells WHOLE rotisserie chickens and homemade soup! Most of the products are artisan, locally grown and/or organic, which I personally think is nice to have in small amounts, but it doesn’t seem ideal for a college student’s bank account. However, Market-To-Go and Quick Zone sell a lot of the commonly known snacks, cereals, drinks and frozen foods so it’s understandable why these items aren’t present in Forbes Street Market. I also noticed that there are gluten-free products, Lactaid milk and non-meat proteins like eggs and beans, so for those who are vegetarian, vegan, or have allergies, the market is a great source for you to eat what you enjoy without having to worry about cross contamination in the dining halls.

Here’s a list of what I snagged from the store to give you an idea of what it sells:

1 container of chicken salad

1 5-piece package of Perdue frozen chicken breasts

½ lb of sliced honey ham

1 box of Near East couscous

1 bag of wheat rigatoni pasta

1 bag of mini pretzels

1 container of guacamole

1 jar of salsa

1 jar of tomato sauce

1 bag of shredded Mexican cheese blend

2 bananas

1 pack of Driscoll’s strawberries

1 qt. of skim milk

While options are limited, everything that I purchased is great quality, so your taste buds won’t be disappointed.

Economic Value

So the question you’ve been waiting to be answered, did I stay under budget? Unfortunately, no. My total came to $54.66. When I arrived back to my apartment, I went on Giant Eagle’s website and conducted an online shop test to see what my total would be with an equivalent list. This came to a total of $44.65. Now some may say a $10 difference is no big deal, but I think that every dollar counts, especially for college students who are swimming in debt.

It was hard to gauge how much I was spending until I bought everything at the register because not all of the items were price marked. However, I’d give them the benefit of the doubt because the store just opened. I haven’t heard of any possibilities of coupons or sales at this market, which is one of the reasons why I like to shop at Giant Eagle. Also, Giant Eagle offers customer rewards cards, so that usually knocks a few dollars off my total at the register (so technically if you shop right, it’s more than a $10 difference).

Overall, I think Pitt will benefit from having Forbes Street Market on campus. For freshmen and those with meal plans, it provides the option to spend your dining dollars and panther funds elsewhere. For those who don’t have meal plans like me, I wouldn’t shop there on a regular basis if you’re working with a budget, but as a treat every once in a while.

 

Photo Credit: author’s own, 4