Glimmer of hope
I hit up a store in Mountain View, Calif., on my way to the San Jose airport on the following Saturday morning.
I’d consider Mountain View to be a nice suburb, right near Silicon Valley, with a lot of trendy, upscale shoppers.
This Fresh & Easy had more stock on hand, fewer expired items and there were actually a few shoppers, one of whom had a cart half full.
Compare that, however, to The Milk Pail Market, an open-air farmers market-type store around the corner, and there’s no way this F&E would have made it.
The shoppers F&E hoped to attract packed the aisles at the Milk Pail. I could barely get in there, and it wasn’t like this was all local organic farmers market-type stuff.
A lot of what they had was sold straight out of bins, and it was obviously wholesale terminal market fare, but that place was packed. This was a case where F&E seemed to have a good location, but they just weren’t going to make it in comparison to what was available around the corner.
Who will fill the void?
There’s wide speculation about what or who will take over Fresh & Easy. It seems clear no one wants to preserve the chain as-is, which is sad, because I think it could work in the right area — namely, on college campuses.
Walgreens has been thrown around. The stores are similarly located and sized, and Walgreens would probably be interested in having a store with fresh food infrastructure built in, as they’re expanding fresh food offerings.
Aldi also comes up in conversations quite often, and I think that’s a likely candidate, too. Aldi announced plans to enter the Southern California market by 2013, and these stores are the right size and some of them are in the right locations for an Aldi consumer.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see.
I’ll miss Fresh & Easy.
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