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Fresh & Easy's Santa Monica Debut Uncertain

The market's parent company is in the midst of determining whether to sell off its 199 Fresh & Easy stores. No opening date set for the store planned to open on Wilshire Boulevard.

While Fresh & Easy assures customers there's no plans to close existing stores, uncertainty surrounds future locations, such as the one slated to open at the former Magnolia Audio Video in Santa Monica's Mid-City neighborhood.

"Since we’re still in strategic review we do not have opening dates for future stores at this time," said Fresh & Easy spokesman Brendan Wonnacott.

The store's parent company, Britain-based Tesco, is "conducting a strategic review" of its 199 Fresh & Easy stores, which have failed to break into the American market, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Fresh & Easy entered the U.S. by opening shops in California, Arizona and Nevada right as the recession hit and in communities hit particularly hard by the subprime mortgage crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported in December

Though it attracted a small group of loyalists, Fresh & Easy largely failed to capture the imagination of American consumers who proved unaccustomed to British-style ready meals, self-service cash registers and unfamiliar store layouts.

In a mass email addressing that report and those that followed, Fresh & Easy management said, Tesco is looking "at all options to find the best outcome for the neighborhood market that you—and we—have come to love."

"While we don't know exactly what that outcome will be, or if Tesco will continue to own the company, we're confident that Fresh & Easy can continue to be your favorite market," the email read. 

Plans to introduce Fresh & Easy to Santa Monica were met with mixed reactions. Some residents in the Mid-City neighborhood said they looked forward to having a market within walking distance; others worry about the increased traffic it could bring.

— Patch editor Saul Daniels contributed to this report.

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Bob February 08, 2013 at 03:24 PM
Bristol Farms will have plenty of parking spaces. Fresh and Easy...virtually none. Realistically, few will walk or bike to do their grocery shopping. This was a bad location for an otherwise welcomed business.
Gary Kavanagh February 08, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Actually the proposed location has not much fewer spaces than the Co-Opportunity Market (which loads of people walk and bike to by the way), and Fresh & Easy was proposing acquiring spaces near by and offsite for employee use. The fact of the matter is about 100 million Americans don't drive cars, a population demographic about as populous as Germany, Belgium and Sweden combined. And gasp, some of these American non-drivers do grocery shopping. Some of them even right here in Santa Monica, gasp! But for folks like Bob here, who can't imagine people living lives different then their own, they carry around blinders that don't see the other realities of people right in front of them. Mega parking lots provided for "free" translates into higher mark up on food prices, because parking is not free, especially not in a real estate market like Santa Monica. The parking spaces in the underground garage in Whole Foods up the street, cost about $50,000 a space to build, let alone ongoing maintenance, ventilation and lighting costs. That isn't simply "given" for "free" to customers out of the goodness of their heart, it translates into a higher cost of doing business that is pushed into prices. In other words, people who don't drive, pay more for food to help pay for storing other people's cars. And there is totally class issues with what is pushed out and what isn't it. Certain Santa Monicans, want to keep Santa Monica only for certain Santa Monicans.
Bob February 08, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Why do you have to resort to personal attacks, Gary, just because our opinions differ. You have no idea what my values are. By the way, there is a bit more street parking around Co-Opportunity than there is on Wilshire, the co-op's lot is a nightmare at times, and national numbers are meaningless in this context.
Gary Kavanagh February 08, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Just calling it like I see it. I was at the meeting for this proposal and the venom that was unleashed onto this store was like nothing I've ever seen before and I've been to quite a few community float ups. My comments are not just specifically about you, you are an anonymous Bob after all, but more directed at the character of the opposition overall. If you don't like national numbers, it might interest you that 60% of households in Santa Monica have a bike, and ride it several times a month or more, both for errands and recreation. Given that the Co-Op bike racks are often full, and they provide more bike racks than most stores, I find it frustrating to have it cast aside as though no one is shopping by bike. Walk ups are probably far more common, but harder to gauge without survey because they have nothing to park. If we really want to know who is shopping and by what means we should conduct door surveys, and it might be very surprising to those with windshield perspectives how much people shop without towing a car around with them. On a more anecdotal basis, in the apartment building I live in, many people walk to get groceries because a store is close enough. If there were more markets closer to more people, more might give it a try. But if we shoot down any market that attempts to serve pedestrian oriented customers, then we keep on pushing people toward driving.
Gary Kavanagh February 08, 2013 at 09:32 PM
I'll concede to being a little overly harsh here, but my patience for the constant wave of knee jerk presumptuous comments like those suggesting it is "unrealistic" or too great a burden to carry food without a motorcar when millions do it everyday, in rich and poor countries alike, and it's plainly more common right here than I think any one making this comments will acknowledge, has worn thin. We do not need every single store for every single purpose to carry the baggage of a massive parking lot. A significant portion of the land of Santa Monica is just for storing cars already, it's one of the major features you start noticing at looking at Santa Monica from space photography, and yet somehow, it's never enough. More more more. Anyways, I'm out I need a mental break from this nonsense.

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