On my bus last night, one of the ladies asked the other, “Have you been to the Fresh & Easy market?”
“Oh my god, YES!” I chirped in. “I LOVE the place!”
The lady looked at me, stunned for a second. “Oh, I was going to say the opposite.”
Apparently, that might just be the opinion of most Americans of the brand new “neighborhood markets”, a creation of Tesco. The LA Times reported a few days ago claiming that the sales at F&E were 70% off mark.
Folks don’t want to change their shopping habits. The lady on the bus claimed that F&E has “nothing”. The store was too bare, she said. She wanted more variety and stuff. She hated the self check-0ut. And, she didn’t say it outright, but she wanted the groceries bagged.
I am one of the small number of people who is madly in love with the place because it is the exact opposite of what that lady wants in a store.
I don’t want that much variety because I don’t want to spend an hour in there wading through stuff I don’t need. I’m not stuck on brand to begin with. The less variety, the better.
And when I say the less variety here, it means the less of typical COMMERCIAL variety, but not in the range of products.
For example, last night I picked up a Greek style yogurt, a Swiss style yogurt, and a Goat Milk yogurt on the shelves among a wide variety of F&E brand yogurts. You just won’t find your regular Yoplait in the place. There may not be a fridge full of competing Tillamook and Land O Lake cheeses but there’s a wedge of Cotswold and other delicious cheeses you won’t find in there. And dear god, the meaty and delicious British cut bacon!!! But I digress.
The place is clean and streamlined. No giant display around the corner. No coupons needed. No member cards needed.
The best part? You check out your own grocery. Oh my god! No more wasting time waiting for somebody to bag your stuff while trying awkwardly to be friendly with the cashier. Absolutely no line to fuss with.
It was easy to get in and out of Fresh & Easy and THAT is exactly what I want. Sure, I would spend about the same amount of time going to my local Vons around the corner as driving a mile over to the closest F&E. But I spend a LOT less time in F&E than in a Vons.
Everything you usually come in for–produce, meat, dairy, and booze–are located in the first few rows, not buried in the back of the store like most grocery chains. If you want to stay and browse, go right ahead and saunter through the back parts of the store. Otherwise, you’re in and you’re out.
The quality of the meat from this place is definitely better than my local Vons. The chicken breasts were definitely fresher. The beef? Rival what I can get fresh at Ploughboy in Fountain Valley.
And the price? People assume that because it’s a British chain, or a brand new small fry that it’s going to cost more than the bigger chain. WRONG. The prices are very competitive. They even have a special sign to tell you when certain products are cheaper than anybody around.
Let me just say that Brandon has NEVER ask to go to the grocery store before. Last night, he actually wants to detour from our dinner run to go there. After all, he says they have the BEST pre-cut pineapples outside of Hawaii. He also loves the self check-out.
So while I let this older lady dissing the joint. I can see the younger generations flocking to this place. It’s perfect to pop in on the run.
If you like to spend time in the grocery store and getting your human interaction fix from your cashier, stay clear.
If you value your time and your money; if you’re an adventurous consumer; and if you HATE everything the normal grocery store stands for, you’ll love Fresh & Easy.
Note: Yes. I’m supporting my local favorite store for the most selfish reason. I love the goddamn store! And if they go under, I have to go back to Vons again. And I DON’T WANT TO!!!