Alex Hughes –July 2018… A brand new supermarket had entered the busy arena filled with the likes of Albertsons, Stater Bros., Vons and Ralphs by the name of Fresh and Easy. Starting in 2007, many locations opened up within San Diego County such as in Downtown San Diego, Vista, Oceanside and even Fallbrook. According to an NBC 7 Report from 2015, they could not pick up the pieces after their recent buyout by The Yucaipa Cos. in 2013. The bankruptcy hit them hard, and we are now left with the empty stores.
Photos by Alex Hughes
A few locations still have the familiar green leaves and beige buildings. Some of the signs out front are as bright as ever waiting for the next customer. The other elements such as the shopping cart racks, and the signs next to them fade away in the sun and tell of the past. When I went to this particular location as well as the other on East Vista Way, I could not feel a sense of sadness for this store. Maybe because it became a part of our family routine to go and purchase some of the many quality products. When I went there, I felt there was a sense of superiority of the food items, and that they were cleaner and healthier. That could be because of the sleek marketing techniques, or that the flavors were actually there. I have to admit that at one point, Fresh and Easy was becoming our go-to grocery location! Albertsons and Stater Bros. were being pushed to the side! We went there weekly to purchase our fix of European-style goods and the typical grocery items. I especially enjoyed their lunch sandwiches such as their ham and swiss baguette and Italian subs. The breads were nice and floury, and the peppercinis added a nice kick to the Italian. I hope that someone will reopen these locations once again for their potential in revolutionizing the supermarket field. The self-service, simplicity of the products, clean image and prices dealt a new hand with old competitors.
On 4131 Oceanside Blvd, you can see the architectural slant of the roof in addition to the beige walls and green trim. Once you see the green leaf and Fresh and Easy sign, you know you’re there. The sign has been covered with “For Lease” and waiting for a tenant. It seems that this shopping center has lost others such as Shakey’s and a few closer to Walgreens. The shopping cart holder still exists with none left to hold. The white shopping cart sticker is peeling off the sides. Fresh and Easy must have been psychic! They predicted that California would ban plastic bags in 2016! If you were a regular shopper, you knew that they promoted lots of reusable bags up front with their green logo. We had lots of those! They even stated it with a pun: “Don’t forget to cart around your reusable bags!” True environmentalists except for the many plastic bags we went through!
On the inside you will notice that Fresh and Easy left the self service stations, shelving, refrigerators, signs and more. It seems they took the product out but left everything else bare. It is eery to see a grocery store without food. It definitely is unnatural and seems very Soylent Green to me. I remember walking down those aisles and picking stuff on the shelves. I would love to walk through the empty aisles to see how it would feel.
What this teaches me is to appreciate a store or a product while you have it. I will always miss the Fresh and Easy guacamole which was very addictive and the pollo asado that was seasoned perfectly. I enjoyed it while I had it. Twinkies came back.
Fresh and Easy (NBC 7 article):