Friday, October 23, 2015

Fresh & Easy's Sad Farewell Letter

Fresh and Easy

Sad sight tonight at the Glassell Park location of Fresh & Easy. With discounts between 10% and 30%, items are already flying off shelves. The employee I talked to said the store will probably be open for a week or two more, but the good stuff is going away now.

Back in 2007, we wrote about the arrival of Fresh & Easy markets. We were particularly excited about the opening of a nearby location in Glassell Park:

Wasn't too impressed with the food sample booth -- pieces of lettuce with blue cheese dressing (really? On day one, that's your only sample in the entire store? Shouldn't F&E be offering samples of just about everything?) Like TJ's, the produce selection is relatively small (actually, if possible, it's smaller than Trader Joe's). But in other ways -- the sheer variety of both F&E brand and national brand ice creams, for example -- F&E offers much more than TJs.

I was impressed, for the most part, by the prices. And let's face it, another grocery option so close by is a good thing -- and a welcome addition to the working-class Glassell Park neighborhood.

The store is big, but not too big, and simply designed. (The wall that separates F&E from whatever will move in next door is empty and stark.) Majority of the check outs are do-it-youself, although on opening day plenty of F&E employees were on hand to help ring people up.

Ultimately, I think the real draw for F&E will indeed be its ready-to-cook entrees. For dinner, I picked up a Green Curry Thai Chicken rice bowl for $3.99. Good price, good flavor (although I'm still tasting the garlic) -- and there's plenty more to try.

Fresh & Easy could never crack the code with consumers, who I think were confused by the fact that it was a hybrid of Trader Joe's and Ralphs. And maybe the self checkout thing really turned people off. It was impersonal and cold -- the direct opposite of TJ's friendly staff.

I liked having F&E as an option, however, and they still carried some decent ready-to-cook items. But alas, it's all over. A message from the company:

Over the last two years, we have been working hard to build a new Fresh & Easy. We thank you for shopping with us and bringing our products into your home.

As you may have heard, all our stores will be closing over the coming weeks. You may still convert any points you have over 500 and redeem your rewards. However, we will no longer be awarding Friends points on purchases made after 12:00:00am Pacific time on Friday October 23, 2015. Please see our updated Terms and Conditions.

We encourage you to come in and get some of your fresh&easy favorites for the last time.

Thank you for being a loyal friend.

The fresh&easy Team

See our full Fresh & Easy coverage from the past decade here.

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