From Kim Kardashian to Hailey Beiber, Erewhon is the trendiest spot to shop for one’s weekly groceries or grab a smoothie. Erewhon Market is a luxury grocer with an emphasis on vegan, raw and organic foods. While the shelves look similar to Whole Foods or Sprouts, the grocery store serves a particular consumer with its enormous price tag. Erewhon, however, is not just a typical West Los Angeles fad. Unlike the trendy Alfred Coffee, Equinox, or Nobu, Erewhon is expanding its network deeper into LA. With the addition of its Silver Lake location, it is questionable what steps Erewhon will take as it moves further east into communities that built LA. The problem with Erewhon is its expansion into parts of the area that house cultural significance. When an Erewhon is transplanted into a neighborhood, it is a sign of death to true LA history.
All eight Erewhon locations are located in the West LA neighborhoods: Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Pacific Palisades, Fairfax, Santa Monica, Venice and its newest location, Silver Lake. These locations are carefully placed to deliver to the wealthiest populations of LA, with notable visits by influencers and celebrities. Erewhon is not an LA native either, as the business moved to the west coast seeking to expand its capital.
In recent years, Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Echo Park have all undergone extreme changes as the neighborhoods have fallen victim to gentrification. In what once was a Latine-serving neighborhood, now lies a hipster, transplant, Keto, Birkenstock dumpster fire. Latines are being forced to move beyond Los Angeles and into the Inland Empire after the neverending rent hikes.
Establishments like Erewhon, shove themselves into culturally diverse neighborhoods and destroy the culture that once was. These businesses find properties in existing towns to build the “new” hip neighborhood of LA. The attraction of such enterprises calls upon an unforgiving consumer, causing rent prices up and cultural populations down. Cultural spaces become nonexistent and get lost in the history of what once was.
LA is lavishly filled with Latine culture and for native Angelenos to be stripped of a place that was long-called home is devastating. Although Erewhon is not the only place that brings a wave of gentrification with it, the grocery store is a symbol of the influx of displacement and the willingness to do anything for profit.
As for the future, Erewhon is the business model chains have creepily been following. Expanding east into Chicano heights, with a different market in mind, is a strategy Erewhon leads the way in. Time will only tell how much damage the grocer and others cause. It is overdue to question how worthy Kourtney Kardashian’s $18 smoothie is compared to neighborhoods marked by historical and cultural importance.