Fresh and Easy is a grocery chain owned by the Tesco company, which operates hundreds of stores in the United Kingdom. This chain represents Tesco’s American division, which services Nevada, California and Arizona. Two distribution centers in southern California provide fresh products to stores throughout the region. Tesco is continuing to develop Fresh and Easy markets throughout the West Coast. When these markets opened in the Coachella Valley, they posed stiff competition to existing grocery store options. Healthy, fresh foods at a low price are the staple of Fresh and Easy markets.
In 2009, Fresh and Easy had two locations in the Coachella Valley: A Palm Desert store and an Indio store. That same year, the grocery chain began construction on several additional store throughout Indio, Coachella, La Quinta and Cathedral City. The Indio location is on the corner of Jackson Street and 42nd Avenue, across from the Super Target shopping center. The Palm Desert location is at the corner of Monterey and Highway 111 near the Rite Aid and Staples.
Fresh and Easy offers the basic staples of a full-size grocery store with ample choices of freshly prepared foods. Many of the products are organic, healthy choices, as well. Fresh produce, sushi, pastas and breads are just a sample of the fresh products Fresh and Easy offers. Fresh produce is offered individually and in prepackaged quantities. Prepackaged meals come in individual and family size portions. Fresh and Easy also offers its own brand of cereals, chips and cookies.
One of my favorite Fresh and Easy products is the Thai Red Curry. This prepackaged food is a delicious mixture of red curry, chicken and rice. It makes a for a convenient and quick lunch or dinner. The portion size is generous and each container provides two servings. The Fresh and Easy brand of vegetable chips is another favorite. The full size bag costs less than $2 and mixes vegetable chips with vegetable fries. The chips taste delicious without being too greasy or salty.
One of my favorite things about Fresh and Easy is the affordability. These grocery stores offer consistently lower prices than other grocery chains in the Coachella Valley. I find most products to be significantly cheaper than Ralphs or Albertsons, which allows me to spend less and buy more. Fresh and Easy is able to keep their overhead low by utilizing self-service checkout lanes and having customers bag their own groceries. This way, the store does not need to pay to employ courtesy clerks, cashiers or baggers. In no way does this lower the standard of service, which I’ll touch upon in the next section.
If you visit a Fresh and Easy location, keep an eye out for clearance items. The stores frequently markdown products that are nearing their expiration dates. Since many of the foods are freshly prepared, they often expire within a few weeks of production. Typically, these products are marked down by 50% the day before the expiration date. I’ve even scored these items at a 75% discount by purchasing them on the night of the expiration date. With already most items already at a reasonable price, getting them marked down is quite a steal. I’ve gotten fresh packs of three romaine lettuce heads for $0.60, freshly-made sandwiches for $1 and half-gallons of orange juice for $0.75.
Fresh and Easy also distributes coupons through direct mailings and their weekly ad. A common coupon is $6 off any $30 purchase, which can amount to a 20% discount on your next grocery shopping trip.
One thing you will probably notice at Fresh and Easy is that there is not an abundance of workers to be found. The premise behind the shopping experience is self-service. Still, there is always an associate at the front registers to help you check out or even bag your groceries if they are not too busy. You will also find a kitchen table associate offering several samples of Fresh and Easy goodies at a sample table within the store. Samples are a great way to try out the Fresh and Easy brands. A handful of associates can also be found throughout the store putting stock away, marking down prices or helping customers.
At the Coachella Valley locations, I have always found Fresh and Easy associates to be upbeat, outgoing and willing to help. I have yet to come across an associate who seems like he does not want to be working there. This speaks volumes for the company and the service.
The next time you’re in the Coachella Valley, make it a priority to visit one of these new neighborhood markets. The price, selection and service are unparalleled by any other desert grocery store.