Reporting Anjali Hemphill
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Fresh & Easy grocery stores were supposed to open at a few places in Natomas, but never did. Now smaller businesses counting on the big name say they’re struggling.
The doors on the potential grocery store have been locked for years; but if you look inside the window, shopping baskets and other supplies show the beginnings of a store getting ready to open.
However, neighboring businesses say they’ve been told the Fresh & Easy they were promised has pulled out completely.
A busy parking lot with lots of potential customers, this is what business owners in the shopping center off Del Paso Road were hoping for with the opening of two Fresh & Easy supermarkets in Natomas.
“It was one of the reasons why we opened our store here, because obviously you think there’s going to be increased traffic, and it’s going to help you grow,” FastSigns Owner Ed Koop said.
For years, all these business owners have seen are empty parking spots and hardly any customers walking around.
“It’s been an ongoing disappointment for us,” said Koop.
Neighboring businesses say they opened up shop because of Fresh & Easy’s plan to expand into the area. That was more than three years ago.
“You keep losing money, you have upwarding (sic) expenses, the lease is pretty high,” business owner Bimal Dwarka said.
A spokesperson for Fresh & Easy says they are still reviewing whether any of their U.S. locations will stay open. The stores just haven’t brought in the profit the company was expecting.
“You have the Kings rumors, they are going to Seattle. You have a building moratorium for Natomas, so we’re kind of feeling like we are getting hit again,” said Koop.
Meanwhile, the neighboring businesses say they’re just trying to stay afloat until someone fills the empty space.
“I really think it’s end of game. I really do, and I do hope we go to the next step and open up something in this center, and take advantage of the facility,” said Koop.
Five Fresh & Easy locations opened in the Sacramento area just last year. The company could decide as early as April whether or not those stores will stay open.