With the Fresh & Easy market logo still on the exterior of the defunct store at the corner of Milpas and Gutierrez streets, another temporary sign has appeared in the window heralding the coming of another CVS Pharmacy.
CVS already has four other Santa Barbara locations, two Goleta stores and one in Carpinteria.
The popular Fresh & Easy market on Milpas Street has been vacant for about a year. During that time, a 7-Eleven convenience store opened across Gutierrez Street.
Until last year, Fresh & Easy operated 97 stores in California, Nevada and Arizona. Southern California was home to 54 locations. The stores were supposed to be a more European version of Trader Joe’s in a $44 billion Southern California grocery market.
Ironically, one of Santa Barbara’s two Trader Joe’s is chomping at the bit to move to a much larger space: the long-closed Fresh Market, 222 N. Milpas St. That is a 22,000-square-foot space with a massive parking area compared to the cramped lot where the Trader Joe’s now does business at 29 S. Milpas St., with just about 10,000 square feet, right next to the 101 Freeway offramp.
However, the Milpas Trader Joe’s must find a new tenant to get out of its current lease and move up to the former Fresh Market site, which was occupied by that franchise for just 15 months. The site was vacant for years after Scolari’s Market left.
Milpas is home to a number of grocery markets. Most of them are not going to as big as the planned Trader Joe’s location when the very popular store relocates to the 200 block.