Monday, November 12, 2007

Fresh & Easy yes, bangers & mash no

Well, Tesco's Fresh & Easy is finally open, and I really wish I had a chance to see what they look like. I need to line up a client visit to southern California soon. The first six stores opened there last week, to positive reviews, according to the LA Times:
... Times staffers ... gave the markets high marks for:

* interior design, because of wide aisles, clearly written signs, bright lighting and an uncluttered feel.

"I like the nice atmosphere," said shopper Sakinna Hamdan, appraising the Arcadia market. "It doesn't overwhelm you like other stores."

* product selection, including Spanish meats, such as jamon serrano and sliced chorizo, and cheeses from around the world.

"This is the first time I've had decent ricotta outside Bellwether Farms from up north or Italy," Kleiman said.

* prepared foods, including single-serving offerings of Greek salad, chicken fajitas and macaroni and cheese.

* convenience -- for instance, nearly all the produce is packaged in plastic bags or net sacks. (But that was a negative for Barasch. "If I want one tomato, I want to be able to buy one tomato," she said.)

* neat presentation of fresh-looking fruits and vegetables. "The apples and pears are beautiful," said Upland store shopper Lauren Ramos, whose husband works for Trader Joe's.

* unexpectedly low prices on items, including a 6-ounce tube of Total Advance Clean Colgate toothpaste selling for $2.47.
So far, so good, though a wise comment was appended:
Kleiman cautioned against making firm decisions right now, when floors aren't scuffed and none of the shopping carts is out of alignment yet.

"It's hard to separate the newness from the niceness," she said.
If anyone has been there, I'd like to hear your opinions. Will it revolutionize American grocery retailing?

Disappointing note in the article: "A British retailer it may be, but Tesco didn't make a big deal out of that. There were no bangers or mash at the Fresh & Easy stores The Times visited." What?!? I love bangers and mash!

A video report from BBC is here.

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