Crest, Visine, Softsoap

for the moment

YOU'VE long hypothesized about the true meaning of those three letters. "Creepy Vicious Sores?" you speculate as you compare prices on moustache bleach. "Cosmic Viking Shit?" you muse while examining the selection of jelly beans. Not to disappoint, but CVS in fact stands for "Consumer Value Stores." (We know--not as exciting as "Can Veritones Squeal?")

If all the stores in Harvard Square were suddenly destroyed in a massive fire, divine intervention would surely spare our CVS/pharmacy, for only God knows where we would be without it.

Sure, the prices may seem a bit high at first. After all, many of us arrive at Harvard accustomed to soap and toothpaste magically reappearing in our bathrooms at home. When competition includes the like of the Coop, though, where is the justification for our complaints? Check out these prices: $19.99 for an economy pack (36 condoms) of Trojan-Enz with spermicidal lubricant. Oh-so-personal personalized Create-A-Cards ("Now you can personalize one from you and your pet") for only $3-50. $3.99 each for Pooh conditioning shampoo, Owl anti-bacterial soap and Tigger bath bubbles for those lucky enough to live in one of Harvard's prized tubequipped suites.

With thirty-five stores in the Boston metro area and two right here in Harvard Square, CVS/pharmacy is always around the corner. Literally.

When asked what made CVS/pharmacy so special, so unique (aside from its ubiquity), one store employee answered, "I could say that we're not allowed to answer questions like that from people like you, but the truth is, I just don't want to talk to you." Though emotionally bruised at first, I chalked his behavior up to the busy schedule employees are forced to keep, restocking shelves and welcoming customers at the glass doors.

Another employee had a little more time to chat. Sammy modestly attributed CVS/pharmacy's immense popularity to its convenience (we of course know that it is more because of its appealing ambience and rare finds), and cited toothpaste (CVS brand--$1.49, Crest Tarter Control--$2-77), eye care ($6.99 for 12 oz. Renu Multi-Purpose Solution), and deodorant (Speedstick sells for $2.19) as its more popular items.

"CVS is a fun place to work!" Sammy told me. Well, of course it is, Sammy! The store increases its outward appeal by the many creative signs that adorn its walls. "priced right!" "Compare and Save!" Sale signs abound, as do 2-for-1 deals.

"Why exchange quality for value?" you may ask. At CVS/pharmacy, you can have both Quality Cambridge personal Daily Planners sell for only $19.99, and Liz Claiborne, Pierre Cardin, Drakkar Noir, Polo, Gucci and Anne Klein designer perfumes reside in an elegant glass display case near the register ("ring bell for assistance"). Russell Stover Candies have their own display as well; assorted chocolate boxes sell for a mere $5.75 CVS/pharmacy makes some quality imitations of quality products. Its version of Noxzema skin cream sells for $2.50 less than the original.

While most Harvard students claim they shop CVS/pharmacy for its basics only, Adam Peek '98 claims their shoe polish caught his eye. Others frequent the store for food to stock their cupboards. A medium bag of Doritoes sells for $0.99, a package of Chips Ahoy for only $2.19, and, most importantly, your favorite box of animal crackers, string handle and all, for $0.99. For that special treat, all Pepperidge Farm Distinctive Cookies sell for under $2.50 a bag.

Sarah Lohrius '98 finds CVS/pharmacy suitable for any occasion. She knew that a gift bag full of CVS/pharmacy items would make the perfect birthday present for her roommate. her choices: mood lipstick, a Lion King Koosh, a Power Ranger beeper, press-on-nails, and much more, all for under $20!

Feedback cards are situated near the door, urging customers to "let us know what you think." This postage-free card is available to patrons because, as CVS/pharmacy President Thomas M. Ryan writes, "Your suggestions will go a long way in making CVS/pharmacy an even better place to shop." Come, on, Tom. Don't tease us. Are such things possible?