Many readers sent us the news yesterday about Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market’s announcement that they will be closing their remaining U.S. stores.
It’s been a long time coming. In April 2013, parent company Tesco announced that they would be closing all 200 of the chain’s stores, citing poor sales.
The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2013 and was purchased by Los Angeles-based billionaire Ron Burkle, co-founder and managing partner of Yucaipa Cos., which specializes in turning around underperforming companies [Mercury News]. But Burkle was unable to revive the struggling chain.
Fresh & Easy positioned itself as a “neighborhood market” with a smaller store size than typical grocery store chains – about 10,000 square feet – and an emphasis on busy consumers who could quickly grab fresh food for dinner on the way home and use self-service checkouts.
On Wednesday, Tesco announced it will liquidate inventories in its remaining 97 stores in California, Arizona and Nevada. All 3,000 of the chain’s employees will be laid off, with the first layoffs starting next week.
We have not confirmed when the 32nd Avenue location will close, but you can expect some fire sales on their remaining inventory in the coming weeks.
Mixed Reviews From Neighbors
Fresh & Easy opened to much fanfare in June 2011. Neighbors were excited to finally have a supermarket back in that location after the former Albertson’s shuttered in 2006. CVS Pharmacy also opened up next door.
But the concept of Fresh & Easy never quite took off. Much of the store’s produce was packaged in plastic, and the self-service checkout model seemed to flummox some shoppers.
One reader named Bob said that despite other’s complaints, his experience at Fresh & Easy on 32nd Avenue was good.
“I’ll miss the store. I liked that it was never crowded and you could get in and out quickly. I liked their prepared salads and meals (well, some of them) and loved their almond milk (never tasted any better than theirs). For a time I saved a ton of money using all their coupons/discounts; that was curtailed with new management, but never entirely. And the employees, including the current manager, were helpful and friendly,” Bob told us.
What’s next for the space
So far there’s no word on when the 32nd Avenue location will officially close.
An empty grocery space in the outer Richmond will undoubtedly get people’s hopes up that a Trader Joe’s could finally open in the neighborhood. In fact you can tell TJ’s you want them to move in there on their website.
What would you like to see open in the space? Let’s just hope another 5 years doesn’t go by while we wait.