Visit to Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market
Let's say that maybe I had my sites set too high. I've been to Tesco's in England and was hoping for that kind of ethnic diversity. I was hoping for a Sprout's-type produce department. I was hoping for the attractive pricing that they advertised. What I got as a mixed bag.
* Expensive meat - but nice looking stuff. This fish was more reasonable, but not as fresh looking as the meat.
* The check out stations - who ever thought this system up doesn't understand how few people will self-check out, so they have all the check out stands for self-check out, but people standing there to help. Makes the check out area very crowded and confused.
* The produce-all bagged. Want an apple? Gotta get six.
* Not nearly the ethnic variety I was hoping for. Tesco's has a great deal of Indian, Thai and Chinese available. Not so much here.
* Not nearly the expected number of pre-prepared, ready to go meals that I expected. Isn't this what they are advertising?
* Cold feeling, and I don't mean temperature. Maybe it's the florescent lighting, but this isn't making me feel like smiling at the customer service people. In fact, I don't remember if they smiled at me.
* Small servings on some items like pasta sauces, bread. Just the right size for two, and priced accordingly.
* Inexpensive and small cuts of cheese. I haven't tasted it yet, so I can't vouch for the quality.
* Slightly cheaper prices on many items, especially impulse items. That 99 cent bag of Doritoes is only 92 cents here.
* Lots of organic and 'green' products (not my interest, but for many this is a welcome alternative.)
* Small store concept but you really could do all your shopping here. You just won't have 10 choices of dishwasher soap to choose from.
We visited a Fresh & Easy this weekend and I have to agree with you on every point you've made. I definitely thought the checkout stands were awkward. There was a group of three older guys who were kind of standing in line and looked very confused - I really hope someone eventually came along and helped them. I got the cold feeling, as well. It's a very sterile, unwelcoming environment. I, too, had hoped for more pre-packaged meals and more ethnic items. I believe we all had our sights set high. We did get a few things we're anxious to try, and there were definitely some good deals to be had. I probably won't make a huge effort to go to another one until the one on 32nd St. and Greenway opens since it's near our house, and not really worth the trip to Mesa.
When I told my friend from England Tesco was moving here, he said, "Really??" He went on to tell me that Tesco was viewed as quite low-budge back home. I sent him the link to the AZ Rep article last week and he was blown away by the big deal they were making about it.
He also told me that when he was growing up, if someone was wearing the cheap, non-cool jeans, kids would say, "Wearing your Tescos, eh?"
That sort of deflated my baloon a bit.
Reminds me very much of an old Jimmy Carr joke: "I Just bought my girlfriend a book called CHEAP AND EASY VEGETARIAN COOKING. Which is perfect, because not only is she a vegetarian..."
Tesco's isn't the only UK grocery chain that's tried a US presence. Up until a couple years ago, the Shaw's/Star Market chain here in New England was owned by Sainsbury. They sold out to Albertson's a while back.
I went to one of the new Fresh and Easy stores in in Vegas and it didn't do anything for me. I agree with the cold feeling, the checkout was a mess, and there were a lot of people just standing around. It was such a contrast to Trader Joe's, and I can't think of a compelling reason to go back, even though it is much closer to my house than TJ's.
Not a chance. For one thing, that would require them going upmarket and more expensive, which is definately not their plan. The store locations are in neighborhoods that will not support a more expensive food court concept.
Keep in mind that I'm not entirely negative on Fresh and Easy. I was disappointed, but would still return. The frozen food department looked quite interesting and the $6.00 coupon they gave me are incentive enough to give it another go.
We went to the location in Mesa on Elliot and Alma School and I agree with most of the points made. Here are a few things I liked and will make me go back:
+ The $3 Big Kahuna wine is much, much, much better than Charles Shaw.
+ One of my favorite cheapish ports, Warres Warrior, is $12.50 here, which is much cheaper than anywhere else in Phoenix (unless someone can tell me otherwise). It's normally $15-18 per bottle.
+ I do most of my shopping at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods... the dairy products seem cheaper here, especially the heavy whipping cream, which I use a lot of this time of year. $2.50 for a pint, and it's not ultra-pastueurized, just pastuerized.
+ I like the free reusable plastic bags. They're actually pretty sturdy.