In Sacramento the Fresh & Easy grocery stores are closing, reports the September 11, 2013 Sacramento Bee article by Dale Kasler, "Fresh & Easy closing Sacramento grocery stores." One of those five Sacramento stores closing is the store near Watt and El Camino Avenues. It's only a block from Wal-Mart and a block from a unionized supermarket. Some customers just don't like self-service food markets, especially older customers who are visually impaired, not used to working with machines, don't much carry cash, or those who really need someone to check out the food, bag it, and allow them to use debit/credit cards or other food purchase cards.
Either the machine is too difficult to manage, you can't see the figures, you're having trouble sliding a paper bill into the machine, it's not registering the bar code, or for those not using computers often, the self-service digital works scares the daylights out of you, especially when you slide a piece of fruit on the glass and nothing happens -- or the machine chews up your money and doesn't give you change. But other factors could play in as to why consumers like shopping in big stores for food. See, "Competing With Big Box Stores - Tips For Retail Competition."
Could it be a past association that food is priced right in a large food store, but higher in a small store that people associated with the 1950s mom and pop food stores? Or do people associate bigger stores with fresher food than small groceries?
What's missing in the Arden Arcade neighborhood between Marconi and El Camino Avenues is a store selling all organic produce and similar grocery items to cater to the large numbers of senior citizens who walk from the many senior apartments in the area to the grocery stores. Many of the customers used walkers, and what seniors don't like about stores that only offer self-service, is you have to become adept at operating the self-service check-out stands, not an easy task for those who are not used to digital technology, putting cash into machines instead of paying with debit or credit cards, or having too few organic vegetables and fruits from which to choose.
The store did have some organic produce, but very little diversity, and the the abundance of Sacramento Natural Foods Coop in midtown. What the neighborhood needs are more organic food markets. Arden Arcade has an abundance of ethnic markets along Fulton Street to cater to the area's various ethnic groups. But what the neighborhood lacks are stores selling a wide enough variety of organic produce, fresh produce, not the sometimes moldy organic strawberries you find in some of the other food markets carrying organic fresh fruit.
Customers may want more organic food choices
As for the Fresh & Easy store, the area's seniors who frequent the Country Club Mall across El Camino from Fresh & Easy, are sad to see some of the best shopping stores moving. For example, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Ross, favorite stores of the area's seniors, are moving to the Town & Country shopping mall in early November, 2013. That means the nondrivers, including the seniors will have to spend bus fare to get to the other shopping center to shop at their favorite stores.
There aren't enough sidewalks for pedestrians to walk to the shopping centers between Watt and Fulton along Marconi. First the Tower Bookstore moved away, where writers and publishers used to gather for monthly meetings, replaced by Goodwill, and now, another vacant space. Why isn't the neighborhood sporting a food market that sells organic foods, bulk grains, and other similar foods?
The Town and Country club has Trader Joe's - Arden-Arcade - Sacramento, CA, but the Country Club which has many more senior apartment complexes seems to be losing stores , including any organic food choices. You have Wal-Mart and Macy's in that area, but not enough food choices for vegans and those looking for organic produce and groceries, even though Saturdays there's a farmer's market in the parking lot of Macy's in the Country Club shopping mall on El Camino Avenue and Watt Avenue.
Many seniors shop for vitamins at Elliot's across from Wal-Mart, but what that health food store doesn't carry is the wide array of organic produce you find at Whole Foods Market or the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. Both those stores also have areas in the store to eat in or take out ready to eat food as well as shop for groceries and produce.
Where do vegans shop for organic produce near El Camino and Watt Avenues?
Many vegans and vegetarians also are in the market for such foods, but it takes hours to get to the stores for people using public transportation. For example, when buses come once an hour, it can take hours to hop on the number 80 bus and change to the number 22 bus, shop at Whole Foods, and then wait another hour to catch the 22 back to where one can change for the 80 to get back to El Camino and Watt, hours of waiting to get to the Whole Food Market on Eastern and Arden.
Fresh& Easy was part of a new wave of grocery stores that set out to reinvent the supermarket business in Sacramento. Now it’s history, says the Sacramento Bee article. The Fresh & Easy grocery chain will be shutting down all five of its Sacramento-area stores under a deal that will sell most of the troubled chain to Southern California supermarket tycoon Ron Burkle.
An investment banker who knows Burkle told the Sacramento Bee that the billionaire plans to rebrand the remaining 150 Fresh & Easy locations as Wild Oats, a natural foods chain whose name disappeared in a takeover six years ago. So will Wild Oats with organic foods open again on Watt Avenue near El Camino Avenue and Marconi Avenue? The vegans and vegetarians hope so. But who really knows what store will open on Watt Avenue between Marconi and El Camino Avenues. The last time the store space went vacant, it seemed like about two years before another store replaced the Tower Bookstore, which now is Goodwill.
The space was divided between the store space now occupied by Goodwill and the smaller space that became Fresh & Easy, a smaller grocery store that just didn't have the variety you see in natural food stores. In the past, the Wild Oats store carried everything from powdered carrot protein powders to organic vegetables and other groceries people on special diets need, such as canned food without added salt and various seeds, grains, and nuts. What store did succeed and is still open, popular, supplying some of the needs of the health-conscious community is Elliot's Natural foods. But Elliot's sells vitamins and supplements and a few natural foods. The store doesn't sell organic fruit and vegetables, at least not in the quantity that customers find in Whole Foods or at the Sacramento Natural Food Coop in midtown.
What customers want to see are more choices
For the numerous seniors, vegans, and vegetarians in the area, it would be great if some store opened selling organic products similar to what the Sacramento Natural Food Coop or Whole Food Markets offers because the location definitely is on a bus line and easily accessible to people who walk to shopping or take any of the several bus lines stopping on El Camino and Watt or Marconi and Watt.
Owned by British retailing conglomerate Tesco, Fresh & Easy was one of several chains that jumped into the Sacramento region in the past few years with an eye toward gobbling market share from incumbents like Raley’s and Safeway. Fresh & Easy originally planned 17 stores in greater Sacramento, the Sacramento Bee article noted.