Fresh & Easy’s experiment in the American grocery store market has come to end. The British parent company Tesco is selling off the stores and managers have confirmed three in our area will close. They are:
The downtown store at Tulare and R streets.
The Shaw and Willow avenues store in Clovis.
The Delano store.
The 25% off sales have already started. The remaining stores will stay open under the ownership of Yucaipa Companies LLC, an investment firm headed by Southern California billionaire Ron Burkle. The Fresh & Easy chain simply never made enough money for Tesco to keep it going.
The Fresh & Easy stores brought something different to Fresno, with their small format, limited selection and self-checkout stands. It’s a bit of a European style of shopping — pick up what you need that day on the way home — that contrasts with our giant big-box shop-for-a-week-all-in-one-go grocery stores.
So the unanswered question is still this: Does the concept work? Plenty of people have professed their love for Fresh & Easy recently, particularly the downtown one. Some downtown residents in places like Iron Bird and the Vagabond Lofts say it’s their favorite place to shop. Yet still others shun the stores altogether, saying they hate the self checkout that requires customers to scan and bag their own groceries. And people with large families tend to flock to the WinCo and the FoodMaxx with their bulk discounts. What do you think?