- Nick Burgess
Why Erewhon Market Became L.A's Go-To Grocery Store
Updated: Mar 28
Have you ever wandered around Kroger, pulling store-brand spaghetti sauce off the shelf and wondering how much money you can dedicate to eggs this week? While you were crossing the items off your little paper shopping list, did it ever hit you that celebrities likely do the same thing you're doing right now? But where are they doing it? And do their groceries cost more because they have more money than you do? No...that would be dumb, right? Wrong. Welcome to the celebrity-induced hysteria of a grocery store known as Erewhon.
What Is Erewhon Market?
Erewhon Market is a popular grocery store chain based in Southern California, with several locations in the Los Angeles area, including Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Silver Lake, and Studio City. The grocery store was named after Samuel Butler's 1872 satirical novel Erewhon, which described a fictional utopian society (did you catch that it's nearly the word "nowhere" spelled backwards to lampoon utopian society?). The store's mission is to provide exceptional organic products and support a radiant lifestyle for its customers.
Erewhon Market was founded in 1968, and since then, it has become one of the leading health food stores in the area. The grocery store chain is known for its commitment to providing high-quality, minimally processed, and healthy foods. Erewhon Market is popular among health-conscious consumers who are looking for organic and natural products.
One of the things that set Erewhon Market apart from other grocery stores is its organic products. The store offers a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables, including locally sourced produce from the pretty fertile Southern California region. Erewhon Market also has a well-stocked meat department, with grass-fed beef and free-range chicken, as well as a large selection of vegetarian and vegan options. In addition to fresh produce and meats, Erewhon Market also offers an extensive selection of organic dairy products, grains, and other pantry staples.
They also have one of the most fun features I've ever come across in a grocery store: smart shopping carts. Erewhon Market's shopping carts are equipped with touch devices that offer autocomplete results for easy navigation of the store. Swipe gestures and down arrows allow touch device users to easily navigate through the store's offerings.
Aside from its healthy food offerings, Erewhon Market also features an organic cafe and tonic bar. The organic cafe serves up a variety of healthy and delicious meals, including salads, sandwiches, and grain bowls. The tonic bar offers a selection of beverages, including freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, and herbal tonics, which are designed to support various aspects of health and wellness.
In all of these decisions, Erewhon reportedly consults an internal list of ingredients that are barred from their grocery store. From processed sugar to corn syrup to artificial colors, foods are barred from the store if they contain anything on this list. However, this presents a new challenge: scarcity and exclusivity.
This is why Erewhon gained a bit of notoriety in the first place: the pricing. You think $7 for a dozen eggs is bad now thanks to inflation? You ain't seen nothin' yet.
The prices here are so high, they're actually famous. Social media users looking to make it big flocked to the store in 2022 to find some of the most outrageous prices they could find, and, well...they found them.
Erewhon In Pop Culture
OK, now that I'm done with the inane setup and jerking off a grocery store, let's talk about why it's really famous: because it's the most pretentious location in the entire world. It makes the Aman New York look like a Radisson. It's the only grocery store I know with over 200,000 Instagram followers, and they've marketed themselves on a brand of exclusivity and high-falutin experiences. But how did they get so popular?
Well, they can thank COVID for that. Erewhon is situated in trendy neighborhoods dotted across the Los Angeles landscape. When COVID hit and the lockdowns began, bars and nightclubs had to shut their doors. What stayed open? Grocery stores! And Erewhon was perfectly placed to all of a sudden become the place to be.
The outdoor dining areas of Erewhon flourished, and these stores became what Whole Foods could only dream about. From there, the popularity exploded. Celebrities began to flock to the store to pick up their photogenic cauliflower and $23 camel milk (see above Tik Tok), and the fanaticism began.
If you're a fan of the Netflix show "You," you might have noticed Penn Badgley's character works at the grocery store "Aravin." That was directly ripped from Erewhon (with the parallels of a utopian ideal when spelled backwards).
Season 25 of South Park actually has Erewhon as a running joke through one of its episodes, as does the Disney+ show "High School Musical: The Musical" when former star Corbin Bleu makes reference to it.
Who Is Shopping At Erewhon?
As I mentioned above, the store is dramatically overpriced, which would make you think that it's really for those that have "made it." You're living in L.A with a lot of cash and social commitments every other night, right? Not necessarily.
In March 2023, Buzzfeed published an interesting study on who the store patrons are for $17 smoothies and $20 yogurt cups, and it's actually not who you might think. Sure they saw salaries as high as $200,000 or those with mysterious job titles like "meat manufacturing," but some of the salaries surprised me. Patrons with salaries as low as $30,000 a year were coming here, which is insane. When I was making $30,000 per year, I was clipping coupons and begging my friends for potatoes, and I don't live in California.
However, that's not to say that it's also not for the rich, successful and famous. It's also made several appearances on your favorite celebrity's Instagram account:
This is stupid. Look, a lot of the entries in my Millionaire Lifestyle segment are pretty cool. From exclusive credit cards with secret perks to airplane seats that have their own bathrooms, I can get behind the rationale of spending a lot of money to get exclusive perks in return. This...is a grocery store. I ran some Erewhon brands through a couple of my local grocery stores, and they have the same products and brands for 1/3 the price. I don't understand it. Maybe there's a "you might see a celebrity" markup, but come on.