{shortcode-1e3b8452ac4072dd3b0b1bd48966bb5a6e45bbcf}The CVS in Harvard Square, which is a mere 30-second walk from the Yard and open 24 hours, is certainly a convenience for Harvard students. But does this convenience come at a cost? After a certain experience where I walked out of CVS with $30 less in my pocket and only a box of Cheerios, bag of pretzels, and pack of medical face masks in my hand, I started wondering.

CVS reportedly stands for Consumer Value Store (I knew you were wondering!), and after this experience, I wondered whether the Harvard Square CVS lives up to the name. I burst the Harvard bubble by taking my bike as far as I felt I could: to two other CVS stores in Cambridge. I compared their pricing to the JFK Street CVS for some basic college necessities: Cheez-its, Pantene Pro-V Smooth & Sleek Shampoo and Conditioner, Pilot G2 Fine Point Rolling Ball Gel Pens Black, and Trojan Pleasure Pack Lubricated Latex Condoms.

The locations investigated were the Harvard Square CVS (6 JFK St., Open 24 Hours), Central Square CVS (624 Massachusetts Ave., Open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.), and the Porter Square CVS (36 White St., Open 24 Hours).

The Results:

Family Size Original Cheez-It

Harvard Square: $8.99

Central Square $8.79

Porter Square: $8.99

CVS.com: $8.99

Pilot G2 Fine Point Rolling Ball Gel Pens Black Ink 5 Pack

Harvard Square: $8.99

Central Square: $8.99

Porter Square: $8.99

CVS.com: $8.99

Pantene Pro-V Smooth & Sleek Shampoo 12 FL OZ

Harvard Square: $6.29, 3 for $15 Deal

Central Square: $5.99, 3 for $15 Deal

Porter Square: $6.29, 3 for $15 Deal

CVS.com: $5.99, On Sale for $5.29 and 3 for $15

Pantene Pro-V Smooth & Sleek Conditioner 10.4 FL OZ

Harvard Square: $5.99, 3 for $15 Deal

Central Square: $6.29, 3 for $15 Deal

Porter Square: $5.99, 3 for $15 Deal

CVS.com: $5.99, On Sale for $5.29 and 3 for $15

Trojan Pleasure Pack 12 Condoms

Harvard Square: $18.79

Central Square: $19.49

Porter Square: $18.79

CVS.com: $18.79

My complete findings are presented above, but in summary, I spent 42 minutes and biked 4.53 miles for minimal results. If I were to expand this investigation, I’d trek farther outside the Harvard bubble. Since Central Square and Porter Square are still relatively close to college campuses (MIT and Lesley, respectively), the prices at these CVSes, too, could be higher than average. However, as seen below, the prices are nearly equivalent to the prices on the CVS website (which even has a disclaimer… “Prices may vary from online to in store”). Apparently, they kind of do.

A noticeable finding is that the Central Square CVS is quirky. Maybe it’s due to its slightly reduced hours, but who honestly knows. This isn’t an Econ final project. But, I can tell you that a box of Family Size Original Cheez-Its is 20 cents less, and the Pantene shampoo and conditioner inexplicably swap prices compared to the other locations. The Central Square condoms, however, are a whole 70 cents more than the other locations and online. Demand drives up price, so… MIT?

To my relatively naive consumer eyes, the prices do seem high. Nearly $9 for Cheez-Its? The good news is that CVS has a lot of savings and rewards options. Signing up for Extra Care might not be a bad idea (this is not an ad, but I actually signed up for it yesterday). Be like me and save money! Or save money by buying your conditioner locally, and shampoo in Central Square, it’s up to you. My 4.53 mile escapade was refreshing, if not too insightful, but I wouldn’t recommend it for the everyday.