I must admit I haven't been to the my regular Fresh&Easy on Spring street for quite sometimes. My most recent trip was a few weeks ago when I had some house guests whose diet is gluten-free among other things. It was necessity that brought me through the door that day.
F&E, our long distance relationship has become an obstacle.
I live just about 3 miles away from the nearest stores: the Spring Street location and the F&E Expresses in Garden Grove and Seal Beach. None of these are really convenient unless I am on my way to/from somewhere. Going 3 miles for a grocery trip I may or may not complete has grown cumbersome over the years.
Having said that, I have been frequenting your Seal Beach location more because it's on my way home from me cheating on you.
Yes, F&E. I have been cheating on you. Big time.
I've been cheating on you with community-supported agriculture subscription I pick up every other Friday at Long Beach Whole Foods and Sunday farmer's market at the Alamitos Bay, also right by Whole Foods. When I pick up the CSA box and/or visit the farmer's market, I usually start planning the meals.
To be honest, when I have an armful of fresh produce, slabs of meat in a glass case at Whole Paycheck...I mean...Whole Foods are more inspirational than nicely packaged chunks at your store. I simply could not resist the temptation.
However, the trip I take to cheat on you actually puts me on an easy path to hit the Seal Beach F&E Express on my way home. Often than not, I would swing in to run through the place just to see what's new.
It's at this Seal Beach F&E Express where I fall in love with you all over again.
The condense version of your current stores is what YOU used to be when I first walked through the door 4 years ago. Almost everything was your own brand. The store is nice and compacted. (No, I don't miss the big aisles at all.) I know for sure that if things I want aren't on the shelf, they're probably not there so I don't have to waste time searching or asking someone--I just resign to the fact and move on.
THAT is the F&E I used to know and love.
I hate to say it but F&E original stores have become too big for your own good. While trying to please the American market and "listen to [your] customers", you seem to have lost touch with the "easy" part of your brand. You've followed the path of the Great American Excess and just became another grocery stores with nicely packaged foods.
Fresh and Easy Buzz reported recently that 2 F&E stores will be testing out full-service check out stations. Good for you! But you won't find me in THAT line. I still love checking out my own stuff, not having to wait around and exchange pleasantries with anyone. Yet another very American request you must adapt to to survive.
These are why F&E Express fits me better, like the earlier version of the full store. Most of the products are F&E brand--as simple as can be. Easy to grab ready-to-eat meals front and center instead of buried deep in the store. I can swing in, get everything I need, and check myself out without having to wait for anyone. (Well, except when buying alcohol, of course.)
I'm sure the shopping preference of a foodie in a childless household--also an admitted Anglophile who doesn't like to stock-pile shop--doesn't really count for anything in the marketplace these days. But as one of your earliest fans, I just want to let you know that I miss the good ol' days.
I don't know if I could fall in love with you like I did the first time ever again at the rate you're changing, but at least your Express store will keep me coming back.
High Priestess OakMonster