Yesterday we reported here Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market USA plans to open two additional stores--besides the one already confirmed by the grocer at Oakwood Avenue and Springs Road--in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Vallejo.
Today's edition of the local area daily newspaper, The Times-Herald--which serves readers in Solano County where Vallejo is located, along with having distribution in nearby Napa County--has a story in which it suggests--and interviews local residents for--that Vallejo shoppers are shopping locally for food, groceries and other items, rather than going out of town.
The chief reason Vallejo residents are shopping at home is the soaring cost of gasoline at the pump, according to the story. Gasoline is currently about $4.20 a gallon in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Among the local shopping venues the Times-Herald piece says Vallejo residents are shopping locally at is the city's busy farmers' market.
For example, in the story, Bill Neads of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce says the downtown farmers' market has been bustling.
"It was packed, elbow to elbow," Neads said. "I think people don't have the money to go out and are finding things to do to save gas."
Vallejo's state certified farmers' market, like those throughout California, sells a wide variety of fresh, local bulk fruits and vegetables, along with items like locally-produced honey, dairy products and even meats at affordable prices. Only farmers can sell at California state certified farmers' markets.
Additionally, Noemi Cavalli and David Roldan of Vallejo say in the story they've started cutting out unnecessary trips to stores out of town and use their bikes as much as possible to save on gas.
"We used to go to Wal-Mart in American Canyon (which is just a couple miles away from Vallejo), but now it seems like even if what they have is 10 cents cheaper, it will cost much more than that to get there," Roldan said. "Really, it has been in the last few months we are feeling the crunch from higher food prices."
As Fresh & Easy Buzz reported in this piece yesterday, Wal-Mart withdrew a city application to open a Supercenter in the city, after four years of contentious battles with the city and community groups over issues such as zoning, labor practices and others issues.
Another Vallejo resident, Peter Krewko, says in the story he stopped shopping at the local Safeway and now does most of his food and grocery shopping at the local branch of Grocery Outlet, a chain of salvage supermarkets which sells manufacturer overruns, slightly blemished goods, grocery products with label errors, and discontinued merchandise. Grocery Outlet is based in nearby Berkeley.
Kreko also says he is shopping regularly at the local farmers market.
"I have become very price conscious in the last few months," said Peter Krewko, who was visiting the downtown farmers market for the first time. "I am definitely sticking to stores here in Vallejo and have started shopping at discount places like Grocery Outlet instead of Safeway."
Krewko said he moved to Vallejo in October and is thankful there is a farmers' market with quality produce at affordable prices.
"It's not only great to have this here in the city for the value, but I also want to support our local farmers," Krewko said.
Rising gas prices, especially in California where $4 a gallon is now the norm, could be good for Tesco's Fresh & Easy and its neighborhood grocer-oriented format in Vallejo. Fresh & Easy's low everyday price structure also could be welcome by Vallejo shoppers like Peter Krewko who are looking to save money and therefore shopping more at off-price and salvage type grocery stores.
Of course, since Fresh & Easy's produce is all pre-packaged rather than bulk like at the city's bustling farmers' market, that might not be a particularly popular category when the first store opens in the city early next year.
The open year-round Vallejo farmers' market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from June -to- September, and on Saturdays only the rest of the year. That schedule does offer food retailers opportunity to sell fresh produce in the city of 130,000, even though the local outdoor market seems to be gaining lots of popularity with shoppers.