Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Welcome to the (Eclectic) Neighborhood: Hermosa Beach, California Fresh & Easy Express Set to Open Jan. 11, 2012

Retail Ethnography

Welcome to the neighborhood.

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market plans to open its micro-small-format (3,000 square-feet) Fresh & Easy Express fresh food and grocery store (pictured at top) at Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and 8th Street on an eclectic commercial block in Hermosa Beach, California on January 11 2012, according to the banner (below) the grocer recently put on the exterior of the vacant building being renovated to house the store.

And an eclectic block it is - particularly the three retail stores that will be neighbors of the Fresh & Easy Express market when it opens in less than a month.

Sharing the block fronting the PCH and across 8th Street are three stores: Sassy's, The Tender Box and Learned Lumber.

The last business, Learned Lumber, is self-explanatory - it's a lumber yard.

But the other two, Sassy's and The Tender Box, are nearly impossible to discern from just the names of the stores.

Venture a guess what type or format of stores they are, without looking a the photos?, of course

Fortunately you don't have to guess, that's what we're here for - to go out in the field and report, and then inform.

Sassy's (at left, above), which is located next to The Tender Box (at right, above) and is a mere baguette's throw from the future Fresh & Easy Express store, is a adult lingerie and costume shop, featuring everything for a night at home (lingerie), a special night out (adult costumes) or a mix of both in the same evening.

If you're thinking The Tender Box might be, say, a tobacco shop, think again. And when trying to guess, think about its proximity next door to Sassy's.

Give up?

Well, and remember we're merely the messenger, The Tender Box specializes in adult entertainment and toys, and we aren't referring to consumer electronics, although some of the inventory for sale in The Tender Box does require batteries to use.

Unique business names seems to be the norm for the block.

For example, the vacant 4,000 or so square-foot building (pictured below) Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is putting the 'Express' market in previously housed a furniture store named Mortise & Tenon. For those not familiar with the term mortise & tenon, it is a type of joint used in wood working, such as in furniture-making. The store will have about 3,000 square-feet of selling space.

All four of the stores - Fresh & Easy Express, the lumber yard, Sassy's and The Tender Box are on the west side of the PCH. Learned Lumber and Fresh & Easy Express are next to one another on 8th Street, while Sassy's and The Tender Box are next to one another across 8th Street.

And yes, no need to ask - Learned Lumber does sell plenty of "hardwood," and the now gone furniture store - which the Fresh & Easy Express is replacing - also offered various items made out of that particular variety of lumber back in its day on the block.

The eclectic nature of the businesses on the block shared with the soon-to-open Fresh & Easy Express store actually are a pretty good depiction of the Hermosa Beach neighborhood itself, which is, well ... eclectic.

The demographic is mostly young. But there are also a number of older, long-term residents in the area, including a few folks who still call themselves hippies.

It's also fairly bohemian or hipster if you're looking for a lifestyle generalization.

There are also numerous singles and young couples in the neighborhood, which is highly dense and filled with apartment complexes and condominiums.

Our four-plus years of research and reporting on Tesco's Fresh & Easy shows younger people, those about 35 and under, as well as singles, tend to be the demographic that thus far has taken to the Fresh & Easy format the most, from a demographic and lifestyle perspective.

Therefore, the demographic and lifestyle composition of the neighborhood could bode well for the Fresh & Easy Express, which is essentially a smaller - about 3,000 square-feet, as compared to 10,000 square-feet - and edited - about 2,500-2,700 SKUs, as compared to about 5,500 SKUs - version of the 10,000 square-foot standard-version Fresh & Easy stores.

The area isn't an inexpensive place to live however.

Housing costs and rents in Hermosa Beach are a bit less than is the case in nearby Manhattan Beach (where Fresh & Easy has a store), for example.

But Hermosa Beach is only affordable from the perspective of what people living in coastal Southern California consider "affordable" to be. As an example, If you're reading this and renting a two bedroom apartment in metro Phoenix, Arizona (or some place similar), multiply what you're paying by a factor of around three.

What the neighborhood doesn't have much of is foot-traffic. Rather, the traffic in and around the block where the future Fresh & Easy Express store will open at Pacific Coast Highway and 8th Street, on January 8, 2012, is mostly automotive.

The 'Express' market will front the PCH, as you can see in the photo above. But there's also an entrance on 8th Street, where there's a small parking lot, pictured below.

There's no on-street parking to speak of either on 8th Street (a few spaces on one side of the street is all) or on the PCH. Therefore, the small parking lot next to the Fresh & Easy Express store on 8th Street is about it on what is a very auto-traffic heavy block.

These same tight space conditions might also make food and grocery deliveries to the 'Express' store a bit of a challenge. The earlier in the morning the better would probably be a good move.

The Hermosa Beach neighborhood isn't a food desert.

There's a Ralphs' Fresh Fare supermarket, for example, along with a big CVS Pharmacy drug store, which has a large selection of groceries, perishables and frozen foods (and liquor, beer and wine) but no fresh foods like meat or produce, and a 7-Eleven convenience store, all a couple to a few minutes drive from the Fresh & Easy Express location at Pacific Coast Highway and 8th Street.

Additionally, there's a Whole Foods Market store about 10 minutes away by car from Pacific Coast Highway and 8th Street, along with a couple other grocery stores a 10-15 minute drive away.

The Hermosa Beach Fresh & Easy Express set to open January 11 is one of four 'Express' format stores Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market plans to open in early 2012, as we reported and detailed in this story on November 15, 2011: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market to Open 20-Plus New Stores in Early 2012 - We Have What's Not in the Press Release.

The other three Fresh & Easy Express stores with planned early 2012 openings are in Los Angeles, Burbank and Laguna Niguel. The addresses of those stores are in the story linked above.

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market opened its first 'Express' store at La Cienega Boulevard and 18th Street in Los Angeles November 2, 2011.It's the only Fresh & Easy Express unit currently open.

In addition to the La Cienega store, we've identified the addresses of six more future Fresh & Easy Express stores - the three noted earlier set for early 2012 openings, plus two more, which we listed in this November 23, 2011 story: Tesco and its Fresh & Easy Chain Hoping 'Seven' is the Lucky Number For 'Fresh & Easy Express.'

There are also photographs of the Burbank Fresh & Easy Express, construction in progress, in the November 23 piece.

Back at Pacific Coast Highway and 8th Street, where the Fresh & Easy Express store will soon open in the former furniture store building, we don't see a whole lot of retail synergy coming to the grocery market from its immediate neighbors - Sassy's, The Tender Box and Learned Lumber - although one can imagine that after spending time shopping in any or all three of the stores one might have worked up a bit of a thirst or hunger.

Conversely, we doubt if the Fresh & Easy Express will bring much new business to Sassy's, The Tendor Box and Learned Lumber, since all three stores tend to be what retail experts call destination stores.

The lumber yard, for example, tends to deal primarily with contractors and local handymen rather than off the street trade, although its probable that after loading a truck with lumbar a contractor might venture over the the Fresh & Easy Express for a bite to eat and a beverage.

And we could be completely wrong about synergies in the case of Sassy's and the Tender Box. Both stores cater to women as well as men, for example - and it is a fact women shop for groceries at a much higher percentage than men do. So perhaps the close proximity of the three stores will lead to a bit of synergy for the two stores plus the Fresh & Easy Express.

But, in a less tongue-in-cheek analysis, based on the demographics of the neighborhood, the potential for the Fresh & Easy Express store doing well in the area is fairly high. For example, the large selection of ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh-prepared foods available in the "Express' format stores should be particularly popular with the young and single residents in the Hermosa Beach neighborhood.

Conversely, the major drawback for the Fresh & Easy Express store at Pacific Coast Highway and 8th Street in Hermosa Beach is the lack of adequate parking. The nearby Ralphs, CVS drug store, 7-Eleven and Whole Foods Market store all have large parking lots, for example. And since the neighborhood is high on auto transit and low on foot-traffic, having adequate parking is a very important variable.

But Fresh & Easy Express is a eclectic little store - its small but stocked with plenty of ready-to-eat and heat foods; has an in-store bakery; offers an assortment of groceries, perishables, frozen foods and non-foods items; sells beer and wine; and serves fresh coffee by the cup - and the commercial strip where it's located on Pacific Coast Highway and 8th Street offers an eclectic mix of retail, to say the least. So perhaps the little grocery store will fit right in, sharing the block with Sassy's, The Tender Box and Learned Lumber, in a Hermosa Beach bohemian kind of way.

[Editor's Note: Photo Credit - Fresh & Easy Buzz. The photographs were taken by a Fresh & Easy Buzz correspondent on 12/07/11. Click on the photos to enlarge.]

Related Stories

November 23, 2011: Tesco and its Fresh & Easy Chain Hoping 'Seven' is the Lucky Number For 'Fresh & Easy Express'

November 2, 2011: Open in Los Angeles: A Look at the First 'Fresh & Easy Express' Store

November 1, 2011: Analysis: Tesco Opens First 'Fresh & Easy Express' Store Tomorrow in Los Angeles ... So What ... ?

July 30, 2011: First 4,000 Sq. Ft. Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market 'Express' Store Set to Open in Los Angeles' San Pedro Community This Year

January 23, 2011: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Looking For Locations For New, Smaller-Format 4,000-to-5,000 Square-Foot Stores


Anonymous said...



F&E across the street from a "porno" store (if I am not mistaken, there were video booths inside).

Gotta love the level of expertise demonstrated here by the Brits.

JWE said...

I live literally one block from this location and am counting down the days until it opens. For the first time in my life I will be able to walk to my favorite grocery store to do my weekly shopping -- it's something I've only read about in books or have seen in movies.

Sassy's and the Tender Box have been in Hermosa for years, so I doubt the neighborhood will be turned off by the proximity of these stores to the F&E location. By the way, almost directly across PCH is a Floyd's barber shop that gets a TON of constant customer traffic from 9am to 9pm every day. There is a traffic light with pedestrian crossing at 8th street, so perhaps some of the Floyd's traffic will cross over into the F&E. I could see young single guys popping across the street to get beer, or harried mothers who take their kids in for a haircut walking across the street to pick up something for dinner so they don't have to deal with making a separate stop.

On the west side of PCH (the side the F&E is on), there are thousands of homes and apartments within walking distance of this location, so I expect the store to get a lot of foot traffic from local residents. This will be in stark contrast to the Manhattan Beach location I currently shop at, which is in a commercial/office zone with no residences within walking distance for miles in any direction. By the way, the Manhattan store does not seem to attract the upscale, yuppie Manhattan Beach shoppers (they're at Whole Foods or Trader Joes), but rather seems to attract most customers from the east side of the 405 in Hawthorne.

Hermosa is indeed an eclectic town -- my street consists of a mix of small cottages, gaudy new McTownhomes, and small apartment buildings. Residents range from older burned-out hippes to young yuppie couples to blue-collar families with kids to just-graduated college students. With such a diverse audience in immediate proximity, I hope to see the store thrive.

Fresh & Easy Buzz said...

Thanks for adding your insight to the story JWE. Good stuff.

Glad you noted Floyd's. Have heard the owner was a big fan of the Andy Griffith Show, hence the original name for the shop?

Doubt if the real Aunt Bea would approve of Sassy's and the Tender Box though -:)

What's your take of the parking situation for the Fresh & Easy Express in the location?


Fresh & Easy Buzz said...

Anonymous December 14, 2011 1:51 AM:

Might you be suggesting the store location specialists for Fresh & Easy spent time across the street at The Tender Box while researching the location for the future 'Express' store? For demographic research purposes, of course.


JWE said...

Glad I could provide some perspective. And no, I did not know that Floyd's had a connection to "Andy Griffith." While Aunt Bea would never dream of going into the Tender Box, I could see her bribing Opie not to tell Andy that she went into Sassy's to pick up some "personal" items. ;)

ANYWAY, as to the parking: it's definitely going to be tight. I think I read that there will be 12 spaces, which is more than I thought. 8th Street is quite narrow, but only really gets congested during morning/evening rush hour. During the day and on weekends, turning into the parking lot shouldn't be too bad. Also during the day and on weekends, you can park along the curb in front of the store right on PCH.

On 8th Street, I expect the city will paint a "Keep Clear" zone in front of the driveway so cars coming in off PCH can turn left into the lot without being blocked by the line of waiting cars going the opposite direction on 8th.

As I said earlier, I do think this location will see much more foot traffic (as in, people walking there) than most F&E locations.

Also, the small lot will mean there will be no room for those outrageous "Hybrid Parking Only" spots F&E puts in front of its stores. It's honestly the only thing the chain has done that REALLY ticks me off. Buying a hybrid is no reason to get preferred parking, and those ridiculous "reserved" spots strike me as desperate pandering to the Whole Foods yuppies F&E desperately wants in their stores. So maybe - just maybe - I make it a point to park my non-hybrid, 17mpg vehicle in a "Hybrid Only" spot each time I visit the Manhattan Beach location just to make that point. :)

Fresh & Easy Buzz said...

Anon: Porno store or not - it actually has the potential to be a good location for the Fresh & Easy Express store, in our assessment.


Fresh & Easy Buzz said...


Could you please drop us an e-mail at freshneasybuzz@yahoo.com?

Would like to ask you a question about the neighborhood, based on your experience and expertise.

Just note the Hermosa Beach F&E Express, and that you are JWE in the e-mail.

Would appreciate it.