Angelenos know that wealth is health, and they shop at Erewhon organic grocery store, which has six locations in Los Angeles County.
After the coronavirus pandemic, bars and nightclubs in the city were forced to close, supermarkets became the only places people could see and be seen last year. Erewhon’s outdoor dining areas became the go-to spot for young, beautiful, and bored people. The store attracted a lot of Instagram flaneurs, but also lots of eye rolls and grimaces from the locals.
Christina Najjar’s posts on Instagram
Christina Najjar’s posts on Instagram feature Erewhon. She goes by the handle @itsmetinx and is known for mocking the lifestyles of certain coastal elites. In a TikTok video that she posted in November, which has been viewed over 710,000 times, she stated that
“where you buy your Kale Chips says a lot about who you are.” She explains the taxonomy behind local grocery stores. Erewhon is her top choice, where you can buy orange cauliflower that’s photogenic or juice that costs almost as high as a Tesla.
This store is a perfect fit for today’s influencer culture. The store’s carefully curated selection of foods, which are often lit like fashion editorials, is ripe for jokes.
Kanye West tweeted about it and Vogue featured
Kanye West tweeted about it and Vogue featured it. In a now-deleted 2018 tweet, he said that “Grocery story drip Erewhon laundry day drip airport drip” Anavrin, a simulacrum of Anavrin, plays a crucial supporting role in the second season Netflix’s “You.” (Anavrin, which is “nirvana,” is spelled backward. Erewhon, an anagram for “nowhere,” was also used.) In December, a group of maskless protesters stormed an area, believing it to be the manifestation of liberal values.
Farley Elliott, an Eater LA editor, said that “Erewhon has an almost Moon Juice quality to it.”
He continued, “More specifically, that the type of people tend to be perceived in populating those Erewhons could only happen in Los Angeles.”
From Hippie to Haute
The store’s appeal on social media comes down to its ability to seamlessly fit in between different content categories, such as food hauls and “What I Eat in a Day” videos.
There are jokes about the store’s prices and how difficult it is to get into than the United States Capitol. Alyssa Lynch (The Balanced Blonde), Jordan Younger (The Balanced Blonde), and Nicole Cogan (“No Bread”) are more serious lifestyle influencers who adore the variety of salubrious products.
It’s not unusual for the West Hollywood location to have overflowing outdoor tables, full of Kardashian-faced women wearing sweatpants and dad hats, taking selfies with their chosen meals. Exotic sports cars parked at parking meters along Beverly Boulevard blast out hip-hop music and sit idle.
Scrolling through Erewhon’s Instagram tagged photos is a way to see a smorgasbord of colorful acai bowls and cross-section shots featuring vibrant lunch wraps. There’s also a surprising collection of people holding juice-filled containers.
Birkenstock-clad hippies used to eat granola out of a bulk container at health food stores. Today, Birkenstocks look chic and tie-dye can be seen regularly on catwalks.
Jason Widener, Erewhon’s vice president, said that it was paradoxical for a health food store in a cool place. He has witnessed the store grow from one location to a mini-empire over the past decade, including the recent opening in Silver Lake. (Studio City, Beverly Hills and other locations are in the works.
Mr. Widener stated, “I don’t know if it’s more cool these days to have Bud Light jumping off of a cliff. You know?” It’s fun to drink green juice and then jump off a cliff.
Hollywood stars partying all night was common in the early aughts. They were photographed leaving bars like Hyde Lounge and Teddy’s for magazines such as Us Weekly. Many young people today eat organic stews, exercise and meditate in the hope of making their routines viral on social media. Moderation is the new thing.
“Are there any impostors eating healthy food just because it’s trendy?” Mr. Widener wondered in his Zenned out, surfer-bro lilt. “Probably. “Probably. I don’t care. It’s my favorite thing. Fake it until you make it.
Sign of the Times
In 1966, Erewhon opened in Boston. Michio Kushi and Aveline Kushi were the founders of Erewhon. They wanted to make macrobiotic foods more accessible. Samuel Butler’s 1872 novel “Erewhon”, about a utopia for health, inspired the name.
The first store on the East Coast did not survive, but a second one in California did. Tony and Josephine Antoci were a husband and wife team who purchased the store in 2011, and they have been responsible for the recent expansion.
Although the store is small enough to feel like an independent mom-and-pop shop it still feels family-friendly. Each location has been carefully designed to fit its local neighborhood.
Yuval Chiprut is Erewhon’s chief development officer. “We hire local talent to every store.” “If we don’t feel authentic to each communities, we’re gonna fail.” (Even playlists are curated locally by D.J.
This world is so immersive and thought-provoking that you could easily imagine it as a full-service restaurant or spa, like Equinox and Nobu.
The interiors of Erewhon are based on natural, raw materials, a nod towards the raw, natural selection, and open food prep kitchens, which communicate honesty. Chiprut stated, “We have nothing to hide.” Inspired by luxury clothing shops and four-star hotels, Chiprut wanted extra-wide aisles that evoke an open, airy feeling.
Each location also has an outdoor eating area that is perfect for lounging and enjoying a smoothie. This has been a boon during the pandemic.
Matthew Hwang and Nick Santiago were so passionate Erewhon shoppers, they created sweatsuits with their store’s name in blocks letters a few years ago — meme as merchandise.
They were $300 per pop when Mr. Santiago and Mr. Hwang ran the digital marketing agency Pizzaslime. The sweats are now available in limited quantities and often sell out quickly. They have been worn by actors Sophie Turner and Jonah Hill, as well as young influencers such as Kelsey Calemine, and Zach Bia.
“It all started from us going to Erewhon everyday and being like, ‘I wish they had merchandise.'” Mr. Hwang stated. “So we made some and put it up and people started to ask for it. First drop included a $160 hoodie and $150 sweatpants, as well as a $30 mask.
Ms. Najjar stated, “It’s what people think L.A. to be
Ms. Najjar stated, “It’s what people think L.A. to be.” “I have always found L.A. to a very self-aware and open to its absurdity,” she said. Her videos are both funny and sincere.
They are a humorous commentary on the consumerists matrix, in which we all are entangled. My generation of millennials is always searching for external validation and markers that define who we are as individuals.
These badges can be worn at your coffee shop, in your neighborhood, or at the supermarket.
There’s more to this lighthearted coin than meets the eye. Erewhon is only one part of the diverse city’s population. As the city struggles with the coronavirus, and as gentrification pushes into more minority neighborhoods, it continues to rise.
Silver Lake was welcomed by the neighborhood’s creative class, but it is also seen as a sign of times that is more complicated. Los Angeles Magazine recently asked, “Is Erewhon’s Arrival in Silver Lake a Final Nail in The Gentrifying Neighborhood’s Coffin?”
This is a great question that has no easy answer. Technicolor smoothies are a popular way to get likes and shares. But they’re only one part of a large iceberg.
Elliott stated, “We’re an majority-Latino County with 10 million people.” “The idea Erewhon is the baseline for Angelenos eating is absurd and beyond offensive,” said Mr. Elliott.
Yet, Elliott still understands why Erewhon gained so much traction. It attracts a certain type of consumer and that type helps to build hype.
He said, “It’s easy make lighthearted fun out of the people there.” They do fit into a certain age group. This is the repeat of social media: Once you see something, you make it a thing. Then you show it to others and the cycle continues.
Social media popularity could mean Erewhon is on the right track to a larger stage. In late 2019, the store announced it had received a minority stake investment from Stripes (a New York-based growth equity firm) in the hopes of expanding its footprint beyond Southern California.
Naturally, there was a lot of fear about the store being sold out like Whole Foods did to Amazon.
Was social media a factor in the deal? TikTokers can influence Erewhon to go from a local grocer into a national chain. Mr. Widener stated, “I believe we leveraged the online community.” “But the digital network leveraged Erewhon.”