The Hollywood Reporter has a long, New Yorker-style piece in which it looks at how Erewhon has evolved from "a gloomy L.A. health food store" into "the world’s trendiest and most extravagant market."
"It’s up for debate what the true tipping-point moment was that transformed Erewhon from just another L.A. health food market into a money-minting retail phenomenon. But there can be no arguing that the wildly popular chain with the strange name — pronounced 'air Juan,' an anagram of 'nowhere' — is doing something right.
"At its 10th and newest location, a flagship store in Pasadena that opened Sept. 13, sales have been so robust that 40 employees needed to be added to the 140 already hired. Erewhon’s stores — all of them located in affluent neighborhoods within Los Angeles County — are averaging weekly sales of $1,800 per square foot, bringing in about $1 million in sales per store each week. By comparison, a well-trafficked Whole Foods — which many feel has seen a dip in quality and cachet since Amazon acquired it in 2017 — earns about the same in a much larger retail space.
"For those living outside L.A. — or without access to the internet — what is Erewhon, exactly? For starters, it’s a sleek, inviting space (the stores are designed by Belgian architect Humberto Nobrega) for stocking up on trendy supplements like sea moss and lion’s mane mushroom; cult hot bar offerings (the organic buffalo cauliflower is a best-seller at $19 a pound); smoothies ($12 to $22, based on ingredients and celebrity endorsements); pristine, non-genetically modified produce and healthy snack foods with words like 'heavenly,' 'good' and 'simple' in their names.
But it also has become Hollywood’s trendiest accessible gathering spot, where, free of velvet ropes and bouncers, the fit and famous gather to sip, munch and flirt right alongside the tourists — groupies, really — who arrive directly from LAX to pose for selfies with smoothies in hand."
You can read the entire story here.
- KC's View:
Erewhon is a fascinating experience - an acquired taste, in my view, but a store in which leadership has clearly defined the store's unique and differentiating insight into what customers need and want.
It won't be everybody's insight. It won't be everybody's nine dollar cup of tea. But it is highly focused and, obviously, effective.
One of the things that is intriguing about Erewhon's approach is its embrace of a membership model - it costs $200 a year, so it is a small and self-selecting base that will join, and those members get discounts, free deliveries (on $150 minimum orders), priority access, and other benefits. I think the effect of this is to create a kind of community - small, insular, and very affluent. But if that's your base, forging stronger connections is a very smart thing to do.