I have never been one to let sheets of mass-mailed newsprint dictate my menu for the week. I know that there are those who take a gleeful thrill in collecting coupons and watching prices, but I don’t. As the incredibly busy (and lazy, don’t forget lazy) person that I am, I value convenience over a bargain. That’s why I was thrilled when a tiny little grocery store opened around the corner. I could stop there on the way home, grab a few items for dinner, and be done with it. I could now avoid the perpetually crowded supermarket, unless I wanted something in particular.
That new grocery store was a Fresh and Easy. So, I was dismayed to hear that Tesco, its parent company, recently announced plans to sell off the chain. Depending on the buyer, the chain will probably undergo some sort of reimagining, and some locations will doubtlessly close. One of those locations to close will almost certainly be the one that I visit. Why? Because it seems that any time a product is introduced that I really like, it’s done away with.
Some people blame the chain’s failure on a culture clash. Tesco is a British company, after all. From what I understand, it is common in Europe to buy small quantities of groceries more often. Conversely, Americans apparently prefer to buy catsup and mustard by the gallon, and frozen corndogs by the gross.
And then there is the identity of the Fresh and Easy store. Is it a grocery store or a convenience store? Is it a discount store or an upmarket store? Even I had to think about this. Eventually, I concluded that the Fresh and Easy shopper probably also bought their furniture at Ikea. A single person who lives in a small apartment in a dense residential neighborhood. Maybe a college student. A hipster, even. This shopper is probably not a retiree. A retiree might be intimidated by having only self checkout lanes available. This shopper is probably not the proverbial soccer mom. She’s looking to buy a gross of corndogs, or maybe a particular brand of something or other for her pickiest eater.
Even I have had my own complaints with the chain. For example, they don’t have my favorite brands of rice cakes, Caesar salad dressing, hamburger buns, and hot dog buns. There is a particular canned vegetable that I can’t find there, and I’ve never seen a doughnut there. But, most of their other stuff is actually pretty good.
So, when my neighborhood store eventually closes or turns into a clone of Seven-Eleven, I’ll certainly miss it. And I’ll especially miss not having to deal with the crowds at the supermarket.