Friday, August 21, 2009
First, prices. One of the traps Fresh Fanatic is going to have to work hard to avoid, because of its focus on high-quality fare, is high prices for everything. They've maintained over and over that while they're going to be selling organic produce and other goods, they believe they'll be able to offer lower prices than other stores. How are they doing? Well, prices on deli meats are high but not exorbitant. $8.95/lb for things like ham and turkey, which is about a dollar more than many stores offer for comparable meats. They use Applegate Farms for the meats but offer Boar's Head cheeses. When I've been there they haven't had anything on special - if they do start to offer specials, it might bring things down a bit. I got a pound of ham yesterday and asked for it sliced thin and they did a really great job, which isn't always a given at delis around here. The bakery staff also mentioned that they're still playing with prices on things like the prepared sweets. A slice of flourless chocolate cake is $3.25 now, but that might change as they gauge interest.
Produce seems reasonable, especially for fruits and vegetables which have both an organic and non-organic option. I'm still not thrilled about how the produce is organized, though. Tomatoes, for instance are set up so that organic ones are in the main produce area, while non-organic roma tomatoes are on the other side of the partition by the front door. Two separate places in the store to get tomatoes? I don't think it works, but they're still playing with how things are set up, I imagine. Price in general will be something everyone will be keeping a close eye on.
For items where they only have an organic option, like eggs, prices are high. Their cheapest dozen eggs is $3.50, and that might mean people shop elsewhere for staples. I'd like to see some non-organic options for things like milk and eggs so that a trip for basic stuff doesn't take too much of a chunk our of my wallet.
How about hours? Right now they're still playing in by ear a bit, but they're open by 7:30 or 8 in the morning and are planning on closing between 7:30 and 8 on weeknights, 6 or so on the weekend. They've mentioned to me a couple of times that they're trying to get a feel for the neighborhood and how late people will shop, and they won't close up if there are still people shopping. They also have a "walk-by" window on Park that will be open at 7am to server coffee, which will be great for people who use the bus stop that's right there. I stopped in at about 8 this morning for coffee ($4.25 for a large latte and a poppy seed muffin) and both the store and the coffee window were open.
Beer? They're waiting on the liquor license, and it may take up to six months for that to come through. Once they get it, they plan on having a good selection (30+) of beers, and they're also planning on soliciting suggestions from shoppers as far as what we'd like to see. The Associated on Myrtle has always had an excellent beer selection, so it will be interesting to see how Fresh Fanatic competes.
A few people have mentioned it, but everyone there has been exceptionally friendly and helpful. Stop at the fish counter and you can end up getting a 15 minute lesson on fish. Everyone wants to know what they can do to help, and what they can do better.
Have you had a chance to stop in yet? Tell us what you think!