As a disclaimer, I am writing this opinionated editorial from the perspective of a native Texan. I apologize in advance for any inaccuracies.
One of the most notable places that I discovered during my trip to California this past summer was a grocery store called Fresh & Easy.
Fresh & Easy can best be described as “Whole Foods meets Trader Joe’s”. The store sold a variety of fresh groceries, juices, vitamins, and environmentally conscious toiletries, all at reasonable prices. Plus, the store itself was open on a 24/7 basis.
With all of these in mind, one might ask, why would a Los Angeles based grocery chain offering so many conveniences shut down all 97 of its locations?
There are many factors that may have played a role in the closing of Fresh & Easy.
- Minimal PR: Admittedly, I was completely unaware of Fresh & Easy’s existence until this past July, when I paid my first visit to its downtown Long Beach location. There are many businesses based in California, such as In-N-Out burger, that are widely known to people from other parts of the country; however, I had never heard of Fresh & Easy being presented or referred to in any forms of mass media.
- The hours: With conveniences come costs, specifically, being open 24 hours a day. If the store is open at all hours of the day, that means there must be an employee must be present at any given time, while being compensated for their hours. Realistically speaking, not many people are wanting to buy leafy greens or gluten-free gummy bears at 3 in the morning. Having an employee working while in-store traffic is slow makes for a waste of money. Perhaps if the store imposed limited hours, such as 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- Dated concept: Although Fresh & Easy offered many conveniences, the reasonably priced grocery vendor wasn’t the first of its kind. There are many stores located in the west coast that offer groceries at fair prices (i.e. Trader Joe’s and Aldi), albeit not open 24/7. In my opinion, the one thing that set Fresh & Easy apart was their juices. During the week that I was in L.A., I would stop by the Long Beach location every morning and pick up a bottle of one of their store brand juices.
Despite having closed all of its locations, Fresh & Easy is still holding out hope for a buyer. Meanwhile, over 3,000 people have lost their jobs as a result of its closing.