Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Today's excitement in my city was the opening of a Fresh & Easy grocery store.

As luck would have it, this Fresh & Easy is in the shopping center closest to my house. Just a bit over a mile away, I can actually walk to it, if need be. More significantly, this shopping center has been without a grocery store for about 5 years. The rumors of the arrival of my neighborhood Fresh & Easy started a few years back when Fresh & Easy started its expansion into California, Arizona, and Nevada. But, as the economy slowed down, so did the expansion.

So today was my city's day for its very own Fresh & Easy. There were lines of people, myself included, lined up outside in the rain for the 10 a.m. opening.

With my $5 off on a total purchase of $20 in hand, I joined the masses, walking up and down the aisles.

No problem buying $20 total was over $70 before my discounts.

So what is Fresh & Easy? They call their stores "Neighborhood Markets" and I can best describe them as a combination of a down-scaled Trader Joe's and a Target grocery store.

They feature fresh meat and produce and lots of prepared meals. They carry all the packaged staples too...paper towels, laundry soap, cereal, crackers, soda...everything bigger grocery stores carry. Their prepared meals contain no additives and preservatives. About half their merchandise is their own label and the rest are brands that you will find in mainstream grocery stores.

I came home with everything from two meals for tonight's dinner, to a tub of Butternut Squash soup, to their brand of liquid soap (a version of Joy), to a loaf of bread, to organic mushrooms, to several bottles of their own California wine. Many of their breads are made for them by Il Fornaio.

Fresh & Easy says they keep their costs down with covers on their freezer compartments, bare cement floors, energy efficiency, and self checkout. There is more to their cost-saving list, but this gives an idea of their philosophy.

Will I be a regular Fresh & Easy shopper? Probably. Will this be my main grocery store? I doubt it; I like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods too much to toss them aside. But, I'm happy to have my very own Fresh & Easy and I know I will be one of their frequent visitors.

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