Finally got a quick looksie at a fresh & easy store. Based on the locations of their stores, their item selection & business model, TESCO's target customer is not your typical Whole Foods customer.At first sight, the store (actually, only one half of the store) somewhat resembles UK stores I've seen with its brightly lighted shelves, basic packaging, and interesting ready-made offerings such as Tikka Marsala, Indian-influenced food, etc. Note: store brand deli items contained either nitrites or nitrates. There's a very small produce section. Items are pagacked-to-go, in bags rather than set out loose. Minimal organic selection. That's one half of the store.When you step into the other half of the store, it seems as though you've entered a convenience store. Non-perishible everyday items, canned, jarred or packaged, paper products, etc. Stuff you'd find in the middle section of your basic American grocery store. There's room for improvement in this area.Overall price: average. Comparable to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods store brand items.The check-out is unusual in that every station is a self-check-out. You ring everything up on your own, pay via the machine & bag your own items. If you need help, there are several workers to assist you (press the assistance button, your station lights up & you wait for help--Vegas-style). Pay via cash, debit or credit card. They don't accept AmEx, which one customer complained about while I was there. That may change in time.So it's clear that fresh & easy stores & Whole Foods aren't comparable. The selection, the experience, the quality, the clientele: all different. I believe that with their "healthy" &/or organic selection, TESCO is simply filling a growing demand among the general population, which ultimately is a good sign. Some people I know love fresh & easy and shop there regularly, but they are far from health conscious. They shop there for convenience & have not yet developed interest in the WF concept. Current WF customers will still continue to shop at WF because of its level of integrity & because its in alignment with certain principles.gnomie
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