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Is Fairway HItting a Rough Patch?


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My Distance Early Warning System that is somewhat reliable is picking up signs that the aggressive expansion of Fairway from their initial public offering this April is creating a deterioration in product availability. When I bought a bag of Macadamia nuts this past weekend, upon eating one at home, I tasted that the oil was rancid despite the "use by" date in November. Being a sticker for integrity, I wrote customer service to bring the nuts to their attention. The same day, yesterday, I tried to buy some cremini mushrooms and encountered essentially an empty bin. In a response to Vanessa in customer service, I wrote her the e-mail below. Has anyone else experienced comparable provisiong problems at their local Fairway?

 

 

Dear Vanesa,
Now that I have your attention, I would like to express my consternation at the clear signs of deterioration at your 86th Street store, one that hints at a supply problem likely the result of your rapid expansion made possible by your public offering of shares. Last week I needed some basil, an herb you have always had in plentiful supply. However, this time, you had one plant left that was half spoiled. When I ask a produce handler to get some more, he said there wasn't any. Because I needed some basil, I told a manager that he should just let me have it, which, to his credit he did. In addition to the basil and the rancid Macadamia nuts incident, today I needed to buy six or eight Cremini mushrooms. When I went to the bin, all that remained were about ten little ones with their gills exposed. I would also like to note that in your organic fruit section, there are no longer cherries at all, or blueberries that are from small producers, but only products from that omnipresent and awful industrial berry enterprise called Driscoll.
With a Whole Foods opening around the corner in the not-too-distant future, I would think you would want to instill whatever necessary customer loyalty required to as the minimize yours from abandoning Fairway for Whole Foods. I have to say that I'm sorely tempted to post our communications on one of the gourmand chat boards.
All the best,
Robert Brown
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Fairway's social media responsiveness impressed me recently. I visited the new one in midtown, but couldn't find the product I needed. Then I struck out at the nearby Whole Foods. I whined on Twitter about it, and Fairway responded immediately.

 

Effective, because it made me return to the store a day later.

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Robert, thanks for mentioning this.

 

My Fairway, in Woodland Park, definitely has stock outages on a regular basis. It shows up in places like the bulk granola, nuts, dried berries, occasionally in the fresh coffee section, occasionally in dairy for things like yogurt or milk. Haven't seen it in produce, though.

 

The uniform response is "we ordered it, and it's on the truck". I suspect their warehouse capability isn't keeping up with their expansion.

 

Their fish remains immaculate, as does the breadth of the deli / appetizing, and the olives / peppers, etc.

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Fairway's social media responsiveness impressed me recently. I visited the new one in midtown, but couldn't find the product I needed. Then I struck out at the nearby Whole Foods. I whined on Twitter about it, and Fairway responded immediately.

 

Effective, because it made me return to the store a day later.

new one in midtown - the on on 6th and like 25nd? So near my office - haven't been yet.

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Thankfully none of these things have happened in Red Hook yet. But I'll be keeping a watchful eye. If Fairway goes "under," shopping will be impossible and depression will set in.

 

However, I rarely use(d) Fairway for produce. The produce markets along Fort Hamilton Parkway have always been better.

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Fairway's social media responsiveness impressed me recently. I visited the new one in midtown, but couldn't find the product I needed. Then I struck out at the nearby Whole Foods. I whined on Twitter about it, and Fairway responded immediately.

 

Effective, because it made me return to the store a day later.

new one in midtown - the on on 6th and like 25nd? So near my office - haven't been yet.

 

 

Yes. It's okay; smaller than Whole Foods I think, but less crowded daytime.

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lately, fairway seems to concentrate more on keeping ready to eat items stocked. i've notice their buying is very erratic. one week the shelves are filled with an item and it sells out the next few weeks they stock totally different items. on the other hand if you ask a manager for some really obscure item like buffalo milk butter they move heaven and earth to stock it the next day. whole foods seems to be trying really hard lately and offer free delivery in the manhattan stores wed - saturdays even to queens if you buy a minimum amount ( i think this is their attempt to win over fresh direct customers) and they have been having crazy sales on bell & evans air chilled chickens regularly $1.99 - $2.99 a pound.

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What splinky said about ready-to-eat makes me think Fairway is trying more now to compete with Trader Joe's. Any thoughts?

 

Bonner: I expect you were being facetious about the emptiness of the city justifying emptiness of shelves. 'Coz it isn't, and it doesn't.

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read the conference call - it sounds like private label is their big plan. Which is trader joes-y - but isn't ready made meals.

 

That said both are higher margin prouducts. A perfect grocer has a really profitable outside ring of the store and sells tons of private label things in the aisles.

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Thanks for the link, useful reading.

 

The comments on Woodland Park (ferocious price competition, lower foot traffic) absolutely ring true for me. I suspect Nauet will cannibalize at least some of Paramus. No way that won't happen for folks from northeast Bergen County

 

The private label effort is well underway. Several products that used to be imported with Italian etc production labels now show up as Fairway brands. There's a Genovese pesto, an artichoke spread, etc. Prices are a little lower

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