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Who would have thought that the third largest retailer in the world would go small instead of big? With Wal-Mart and Costco eating up the “Mom and Pop” stores, it is not a bet that many retailers would be willing to make. You may not have heard of Tesco, but the British retailer is no small potatoes. Third largest retailer in the world, they have a plan to popularize the mini-sized supermarket.

Perhaps a vision from an oxymoron daydream, the mini-supermarkets feature small neighborhood stores, with clear, wide aisles free of clutter. Only 10,000 square feet in size, they are closer to the size of a Walgreen’s than a traditional supermarket. Currently, locations are in southern California, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.

Healthy is the major focus of the stores; healthy food, healthy environment, and employee health. Their website, www.freshandeasy.com, promises “fresh, high quality food” as featured in their own line of Fresh&EasyTM products that are free of trans fats and have no artificial colors or flavors. They boast using local farmers and suppliers whenever possible. Sticking with the health motif, they also do not sell any tobacco products.

Along with all the healthy food, Fresh & Easy stores project environmental consciousness too. Highlights of the features designed to improve energy efficiency include buildings that use 30% less energy than a typical grocery store (is this because they are one fifth the size?), LED lighting that reduces energy consumption compared to fluorescents, auto dimming lights, and increased insulation. Other perks Al Gore would approve of are parking spaces for hybrids and bike racks for employees and customers plus in-store recycling. With a minimum starting wage is $10, (currently $2.50 above the minimum wage in California), it appears that the Fresh & Easy stores are concerned about employees as well. With the primarily self-check-out cash registers, they may be passing on some of the savings in fewer clerks as increased wages.With Americans ever looking for faster and easier ways to get what they want, Fresh & Easy mini grocery stores may fill the fast health food niche nicely.