BRAINTREE – Construction of an Amazon Fresh grocery store off Route 3 is underway.
The Braintree Planning Board has approved the retail giant’s plan to turn the former Saks Off 5th and 5.11 Tactical spaces into a 37,500-square-foot Amazon Fresh store at the Grossman Drive shopping plaza.
Construction includes changes to the storefront, entrance and walkway, as well as installing corrals for shopping carts.
According to Amazon’s website, there are no Fresh stores in Massachusetts.
Amazon’s first Fresh store, a 35,000-square-foot traditional supermarket, opened last year in a strip mall in Woodland Hills, California.
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The Fresh stores include a shopping cart that tallies up items as it enters the basket and enables instant checkout, and Alexa stations throughout the store that can be asked questions.
Customers can enter the store the traditional way, but if they want to use the cart, they need to open their Amazon app and swipe it. Amazon says the cart will make “a quick grocery trip even quicker by allowing (shoppers) to skip the checkout line.”
Amazon entered the food business in a big way in 2017 by buying Whole Foods, and expanded with the online Fresh stores, which offer food deliveries, and the Go stores, which offer cashierless shopping in a store that monitors purchases with overhead cameras.
Fresh is different from Whole Foods, said Jeff Helbling, Amazon’s vice president of the Fresh stores. Organics are featured at Whole Foods, while Fresh has a wider variety of foods, he said.
“It serves a different consumer need,” he said.
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The stores also serve as pickup and drop-off locations for other Amazon orders.
Fresh stores are in California, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington state and Washington, D.C.
Amazon applied to Braintree’s planning department under the name “Seritage KMT Finance LLC” and said in a letter to the town that the rendering “includes a fictitious name for confidentiality purposes.”
When reached via email and asked if an Amazon Fresh was coming to Braintree, a representative for the company said, “Amazon doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation.”
McMahon Associates, a traffic engineering and planning firm, said the new Braintree store will result in about 44 new vehicle trips during the weekday afternoon peak hour and about 45 additional trips during the Saturday midday peak hour.
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Jefferson Grahm of USA Today contributed to this report. Reach Mary Whitfill at [email protected]