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Jul 8, 2008 05:04 PM

Fresh and Easy, Manhattan Beach et al..

Went there today and walked around a bit. Bought a few things. What do you Hounds think is worth purchasing the next time around. Overall, nice, clean and very friendly. The coffee and 1/4 muffin I had received at the little give a way station was a nice treat...

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  1. What is it like compared to Trader Joe's or WholeFoods?

    By the way for anyone unfamiliar with it, this is the place out Rosencrans a few blocks east of Sepulveda (and a few blocks west of the 405).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cinnamon

      More like a Trader Joe's. I always hunt for the items w/the sale stickers. Bought some scallops at half price, nice sweet and fresh. Marked down because the 'expired' date was the next day. I like that they mark down their food versus just throwing it away as some other places do.

    2. I visited the store in Hollywood not too long ago and was seriously disappointed. I went in hoping I'd see a nice version of Marks & Spencer Simply Food, as they have in London and as my friends at Fresh & Easy proclaim their store to be. But it wasn't anything close. The food was haphazardly presented, the merchandising defied logic, and things were generally messy. It's the merchandising that confuses me more than anything -- they sell decent cheese, smoked fish, etc., but they also sell industrial sized cans of hominy, menudo, etc. It was just weird and I could not wrap my head around the idea behind the merchandising.

      I do not go to TJ's every week, but I like the experience of walking around TJ's, not knowing what I'm going to find. This is especially true in the dried fruit and nuts area -- you never know what you'll run into. It's one of life's simple pleasures for me and Fresh & Easy could not duplicate that experience.

      4 Replies
      1. re: glutton

        The Hominy and Menudo etc... is because they did their homework and realized that within that zipcode alone was 42% Hispanic. They were NOT trying to replicate the offerings of their UK stores. They were smarter, did their homework and went SPECIFICALLY into under served areas first. (The MB store is probably because their HQ is in El Segundo and they needed a store closer to home)


        1. re: Dommy

          Now that they have more stores in the LA than Trader Joe's, it's hard for me to really think that there are that many underserved areas in LA. But there is always an insatiable demand for more convenient retail locations, so that's probably what they shot for initially.

          However, I am still not sure I get the merchandising decisions, at least in the Hollywood store. It seems schizophrenic, as if they're trying to make everyone happy by offering a "greatest hits" selection for each demographic. And I seriously doubt that they are going to compete with Super King, Costco, etc. when they're selling the 128 oz. can of hominy. When you're buying cans that big, you're not shopping for them at a store like F&E.

          1. re: glutton

            Without going into to much detail, their initial launch stores (Including the hollywood one) were in areas such as Compton, West Covina, Lakewood, etc... They were 'near' TJs, but not exactly in the nieghborhood of them, so it would be more convenient for people in the neighborhood to shop there (especially the escalating gas prices). These neighborhoods were also not near whole foods or upscale markets and the supermarkets that were in the area were aging...

            I'm not sure how sophisticated they are with the deep planograms use that is typical in the US business (And since they are just launching don't know what their relationships are with the companies who offer those things) but as for giant cans of Hominy... obviously... you've never made Pozole with a Mexican Abuelita... ;) Mine uses about of those two cans... ;)


        2. re: glutton

          I completely disagree that it's messy and haphazard. I think you just don't understand the concept. It's a small everyday grocery store, the way they used to be before supermarkets tripled in size.

          TJ's started as a wine and specialty foods store. They only added fresh meats and produce later on. If you're mostly interested in browsing for new and interesting snacks, then TJ's is your man. If you're looking for groceries, then F&E has marginally better pricing and much better meat and seafood.

          Who knows how long F&Easy will be around. They do seem to be scaring the bejeezus out of the unions though.

        3. We walked around the Manhattan Beach location a few days ago, but didn't buy anything. We thought it was kind of like an upscale Trader Joe's, with more fresh food. Agree that is looked nice and clean, and prices seemed pretty good (even my super-value $1 strawberries I had just bought at Ralphs were 95 cents there!). But my husband found the smell of paint (or industrial cleaner or whatever that was) completely overwhelming and was itching to get out as quickly as possible. The smell bothered him so much that he doesn't want to ever go back. I assume this is just "new" smell and it will dissipate soon...I will have to go back without him to check, though.

          1. I've been shopping at the Long Beach stores since the beginning of the year. I agree with justathing, I like to hunt for the 50% price stickers as a way to try new things (they're mostly on the fresh foods). And yes, those scallops are wonderful.

            Starting in the veg section,

            Salad mixes, especially the watercress/rocket one

            Sugar snap peas

            Refrigerated section--butternut squash soup, wild mushroom soup

            Deli section--smoked trout filets, uncured deli meats (maple ham, pastrami)

            The fresh meat is very high quality, hence the price may seem high, but look for the 50% stickers

            Their own brand greek style yogurt (I think they also sell a name brand)

            Grocery section...their own brand flavored tortilla chips.

            Frozen--their own brand pom blueberry sorbet. Other hounds have professed love for the banana gelato.

            Their fresh ranch dressing is delicious.


            They've started adding loss-leaders at extra low prices, and their every day prices on milk are better than most.

            1. I'll agree with everyone else. The 50% off stickers are the best thing about the store...and the $5 off coupon for a purchase over $20. I bought a 50% off beef cost a whole $2.40...and it was great!

              3 Replies
              1. re: attran99

                Mini Samosa-bought them on the 4th and ate them last night. Very good and the perfect size (although I ate 4). I thought I heard they were going to stock more Ennglish food so I was very disappointed. I do not eat meat so can't say but my SIL says they have real English bacon (thick and meaty) that she loves.

                The store is small and hard to get around with a cart and people. I like the self checkout although it can get a bit stressful when the person behind is watching and judging. Perhaps I am projecting....

                I bought the 99c strawberries and thought they were delicious. I still had to go to TJ's to get stuff they did not have like limes. I bought peaches and was a little dubious as I like to choose fruit individually (yes, I am a fruit handler and smeller) but they were quite good and cheap. I stuck em in a paper bag and just finished the last one today.

                Bough the tortilla chips and liked them a lot until 2/3 through they became unbearably salty. Next time, unsalted will be way to go I think.

                I am going back to try the hummus.

                1. re: Densible

                  The hummus is incredible. If I saw some on the 50 percent off sticker, I'd go grab a bag of pitas and make that lunch without even thinking.

                2. re: attran99

                  Emjoy those $5 coupons while you can because they can't be here long. The margins in this business are just way too thin. Frankly, it's reminiscent of all the free money that internet retailers were throwing at people 1998-2001. I think we know how that story ended.