It’s been a busy week on the retail front, with lots of highly anticipated stores announcing they’re coming, and at least one that said it’s leaving. Here’s the rundown.
Closing:Fresh & Easy announced Monday that it’s closing all three of its stores in Fresno and Clovis by April 3. The sales have already started at the stores (and are apparently quite crazy). It’s an end to the grand experiment of bringing a British-style, small-format grocer to the U.S. — at least in the Fresno area. The retailer never quite found its niche. The company lives on under a new American owner, and stores in Reedley and Lemoore will remain open.
One Fresh & Easy store that closed in recent years has been converted to a Grocery Outlet downtown and the one on Cedar Avenue near Shields Avenue is on track to become a library. It’s a little too early to tell what will happen to the two stores that are closing in Fresno and one in Clovis. Any ideas?
Have you seen the post flying around Facebook about McAllen, Texas turning an empty Walmart into a giant library? Well, Fresno is doing something a little bit smaller, but just as cool. Remember the Fresh & Easy stores here that closed? One of them is going to be a library. The Cedar-Clinton branch of the Fresno County Public Library will move into the former Fresh & Easy store on Cedar Avenue, south of Shields Avenue. The new library could be open by next summer.
Here’s the story with all the details that ran before the Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted on it. They agreed Tuesday to move forward with the process. It will cost $2.6 million to buy the property and $1 million to renovate it. (The reporter who covered the meeting tells me that they need to do quite a bit of tinkering with the heating and air conditioning system, because apparently not having grocery store coolers helping to cool down the interior changes things.)
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?
Openings and closings in the retail world seem to be the new normal these days. Here’s an update of who’s coming and who’s going.
Likely on the way out: Fresh & Easy.
The British parent of the mini grocer announced last week it just wasn’t making enough money to make shareholders happy. The retailer is considering pulling out of the U.S. and selling its stores. Signs of the retailer’s struggle were evident in the Valley, with several stores built but never opened.
What this means for the eight Fresh & Easy stores in the central San Joaquin Valley is still up in the air. You can read more about why it’s failing here.
Coming soon: Walmart Neighborhood Market.
Walmart has been opening its own version of a small grocery for a while now and one is coming to Fresno. The 40,000-square-foot store is under construction at the southwest corner of Willow and Herndon avenues, and another is slated for Demaree Street and Goshen Avenue in Visalia.
FOOTBALL FOLLIES: I’m SO not a football prognosticator. My playoff picks went 1-3 this weekend. I even had the gall to call The Chargers a “lock.” So, I’m now officially picking the Jets and the Vikings for the Super Bowl, in hopes that my picking them makes them lose.
BLAH BLAH BAUER: Was it just me or was the “24″ season premiere last night a little boring? Someone in charge of CTU doesn’t believe Jack’s (and Chloe’s) theory, so the two of them have take matters into their own hands? Haven’t we seen this before? Like every season? In fact, the whole two hours seemed pretty familiar. I’m holding onto hope that tonight’s second part of the premiere impresses me.
HELLA FRESH: So I finally got over to Fresh & Easy this weekend. Very cool. I like the selections and prices, plus the prepared food looks yummy. Not even the picketers are going to keep me away.
YOUR TURN: Anything good happen to ya over the weekend? Spill it in the comments.
It’s all the local news and stuff from the blogosphere that you need to Fres-Know.
SO FRESH AND SO CLEAN: Finally, Fresno’s Fresh & Easy markets have opened their doors, including the long-awaited downtown store. Head over to Fresno Famous for a review, to Central Valley Moms for a video and to the News Blog for a rundown of its green practices. [Fresno Famous/Central Valley Moms/News Blog]
FRESNOTAGOODIDEA: This is Conlan sets out to mock the campaign to change Fresno’s name, but ends up making a really good point — and does quite well with the mockery stuff too. [This is Conlan]
TALENT LOCAL: The Fresno Blogosphere has produced yet another great new series profiling the best of Fresno. This one is Travis Sheridan’s Talent Local segment, in which he celebrates skilled professionals — designers, photographers, lawyers, etc. — in Fresno. Definitely worth checking out. [Travis Sheridan]