12/07/2012 09:24:00 AMTom Karst
Aw, I love Fresh and Easy stores. They're literally easy. The store is small enough yet they keep a varied selection. I'm in then I'm out with what I need.
A lot of the analysis written about why Fresh and Easy failed seems to have been written by people who don't shop there. I shop there all the time and fit what loosely could be considered their target demographic, if there ever was such a thing -- a single professional who doesn't cook and likes bargains. I think their check out machines are easy to use and greatly prefer that to waiting in line for someone to bag my groceries and tell me to have a nice day. The idea that somehow Fresh and Easy would have succeeded had the stores been cool and trendy like Trader Joe's is cracy. Prices are a lot higher at Trader Joe's, which never has things like half gallon ice cream at two for $5. Fresh and Easy also isn't a full service grocery store where moms fill shopping carts with the week's groceries. The problem with Fresh and Easy is that there weren't enough Californians who want an unpretentious store and yet also have the disposable income. Californians like to think they're cool and trendy, something Fresh and Easy never was intended to be. I've been to parties where people talk about shopping at Whole Foods, Gelsen's, or Trader Joe's as if they're trying to impress people. Nobody would ever brag about buying cut flowers for $4 or inexpensive prepared meals for $2.50 at Fresh and Easy. The problem is Fresh and Easy got labeled as low class and frugal (though really the prices on a lot of things are quite high). I kind of hate to say it, but the stereotype is true. Greater LA is a land of upscale, or wannabe upscale, pretentious people. Fresh and Easy wasn't the import brand of choice.
when i lived in newbury park california I went to the Fresh and Easy store almost everyday. I loved that store more than anyother stores around the area. I now live in the worst state and city, (Lawton, Oklahoma). Lawton has no grocery stores to speak of, but again they don't have sidewalks or green lawns either. Having no grocery store around I truly miss FRESH AND EASY ALL THE MORE.
I'm guessing the writer seldom, if ever, shopped at a Fresh & Easy. Their selection was decent, I remember hearing something about 95% of everything that the average person would need. In that respect they are spot on. The concept is good. While some people are b******g about the self checkouts, I LOVE IT! Those who have been around long enough to remember the old Lucky's remember the sticker on the register that mentioned "check stand chatter" as the number one customer complaint. And the big markets are that way. I don't need some checker yapping with the people in front of me. I prefer to get in and get out. Then there is the fact that most stores NEVER have enough checkers. And it's funny how the longer the lines get the yappier the checkers get! I've heard rumor that the grocery chains had a lot to do with the plight of Fresh & Easy. Some towns had pickets up when the stores opened...no surprise, really. I heard F&E was non-union. I thought their meat prices were a bit high, but otherwise it worked for me.
I wasn't a shopper at Fresh & Easy since I lived in the Midwest, but I'm impressed with the passion of comments from Fresh & Easy customers here. Still think the prepackaged produce probably hurt their appeal on the West Coast.
My wife and I never got these stores at all. What was their marketing plan? The Japanese came into the auto market years ago and succeeded initially with simple things like putting the radio, horn, and gear shift where people expected it to be. F&E was a weird concept. I have been in a large Tesco store in the suburbs of Budapest and would love having one of those stores here in Scottsdale. But the holy grail would be a Correfour. I have been in them in Argentina, France, and Spain and believe they would shut down most of the grocery stores in this area. Correfour knows how to make bread using flour where F&E had lousy bread using the same ingredients. It is sad to see anyone fail but they could have passed this by me initially and I could have saved them a fortune. My wife and I saw this coming from day one and were surprised that F&E lasted as long as it did. We were almost convinced that we were wrong initially. Does any one remember A&P (small stores and sore brands that were mediocre and over priced)? The few times I went into a F&E, I always found it odd that the clearance items were marked down to what the other large groceries in the area were charging for the non-clearance items.
I love the Eat Well prepard section! I just bought my meals for the nexted five days, then I heard they may not be available soon. Services offered by F&E made my week Fresh & Easy to eat balanced meals and watch my waist line. I hope to see your continued services nexted year!
chris, you hit the nail on the head its so very true what you said about californians wanting to be hip. i like fresh and easy too. i hate going in trader joes or whole foods with the hipsters in skinny jeans holding star bucks coffe cups runnin around like theyve never seen organic cookies and silliness ....
My local FE smells of formaldehyde every time I walk in the door---rotting, unsold "Fresh" produce most likely.... Regarding the "Easy" portion of the equation, when is NOT having what I want to buy "Easy".. Easy, is making one stop, at a single supermarket, and finding everything I need...and want. I don't like to shop, I only do it because I must. I don't want to shop at two stores, I want to shop at one store and get it over with. I will however, make an stop at at Trader Joe's because they have great beers at great prices. FE, not so much. FE will not be missed by this consumer.
In my opinion, F&E failed to be successful due to a number of reason. 1. To many hands in the cookie jar looking to profit off the new venture. 2. Negative feed back from many who never gave the format a chance. 2. Locations not designed or catering to the neighborhoods they opened in. i.e Hispanic communities etc. - SaveMart is having this same issue. 3. Profit margins set to high. ( i mean if you can go at the right time and go to the cleareance sections of the store , you would find items reduced to quick move prices. Sometimes as much as 50-75% off These are just a few examples from my experiance's with Fresh and Easy. Dont get me wrong i love the stores concept, format and the variety of items. Not to mention the quickness of getting in and out (this is one of my biggest pet peevs at the other major retail stores, plus -long slow moving lines, out of control children etc). The locations that they are in are not bad locations. They are in areas that do need a smaller grocery format. The problem is you need to cater to your potential customers and surroundings. If you are gonna go after high end customers then put yourself in those areas. The lower income areas need the stores... Solution, reformat the lower income area stores to Cheap & Easy, lower prices to appeal to customer base and bring in items the customer buys. I for one will miss them. I hope they restructure and look closer into the areas and customers they already have.
I shop exclusively at Fresh and Easy for my weekly major grocery run. As a working mom, I love that I can stop in and pick up a family size meal with a 99 cent bag of lettuce and a 98 cent loaf of french bread. This year, I purchased their Holiday Box for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and it was delicious. I will be bummed if my local store closes. Fresh and Easy is the only store which "gets me" and fits so well with the way I live and meal plan.
Excellent points. A few I had not really thought about, until I read your posting.