Not so Fresh and Easy

I went to a new Fresh and Easy grocery store tonight because they had given me a $5 coupon when I visited last week, despite the fact that I didn't buy anything at that time. This is the only F&E store that I've been in.

For a store that is located across the parking lot from Trader Joes they haven't done a good job of competing. To start with , they are disturbingly sterile. The fluorescent lights make everything look unhealthy. They have scads of F&E brand items lining the shelves, all blandly packaged. I had a F&E store brand cinnamon bun and it sucked. Large numbers of hulking, redundant, cold display cases line the aisles, full of things that don't usually require refrigeration. They have a "greatest hits" produce aisle - full of convenience-packaged items but none of the more esoteric things you'd find at a Vons, like celery, for example.

A lot of their food is pre-prepared and sealed into the previously mentioned bland packaging. I purchased some chicken strips with a bright orange Indian seasoning, mostly because they were the most eye catching food in the display. They tasted far more bland than I expected.

F&E is British supermarket Tesco's expansion into the US. I had previously looked at investing in Tesco as a currency hedge and because their stock seemed to go steadily upwards. I have to say that British supermarket concepts don't seem to translate well to California. The store I visited is near US corporate headquarters, so you'd think that it would be fantastic with all those bosses close by.

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