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Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone March 8, 2024

Erewhon, a trendy California grocer, didn’t open in New York. Video creators said it was a spoof.

If Your Time is short

  • A video claiming to show that the upscale California grocer Erewhon had opened a store in Brooklyn, New York, was digitally altered, the video creators said.

  • The video shows footage of a City Fresh Market store, and that brand name appears at times. Erowhen has talked about opening in New York, but currently has 10 locations only in California.

  • Learn more about PolitiFact’s fact-checking process and rating system.

Executives at Erewhon, an upscale organic grocery store chain in California with a devoted following, have talked about expanding east to New York City.

But a social media video has misleadingly convinced some Brooklyn, New York, residents that the trendy store already opened its doors there.

A Jan. 30 Instagram post claimed to show an Erewhon store in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. "The Bushwick Erewhon finally opened this week," a narrator in the video said.

"It’s beautiful inside, but the prices are crazy," said the narrator, who led viewers on a tour inside the store, showing $10 cereal, $7 oat milk, $12 cartons of eggs and a $20 beet, ginger and spinach smoothie.

The video is from Hotspot NYC, an Instagram account that bills itself as "Yelp for hot people." An account by the same name also shared the video on TikTok, where it had more than 27,000 likes.

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

But Erewhon has not opened in New York. There are no Erewhon locations outside of California, the company’s website shows. None of the chain’s 10 locations match the building and location seen in the Instagram video. And the video’s creators said it was a fake. 

The store’s exterior sign is the first signal in the video that something is amiss. The Erewhon sign moves slightly at the video’s beginning, an indication that it was added digitally.

Some commenters on the post believed the video was real, but others accurately said it showed a City Fresh Market in Bushwick.

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"Bushwick and (Erewhon) being in the same sentence doesn't make any sense. Gentrification has gone wild," one commenter said, with more than 4,300 people liking the remark.

Other evidence in the Instagram footage: a menu board at a cafe inside the store reads, "City Fresh menu board." And when the narrator holds up what he said was a $20 beet smoothie, the real store sign reading "City Fresh Market" is visible in the background.

We found other images online that show the City Fresh Market storefront with the same buildings in the background as seen in the video.

Erewhon does sell a $21 smoothie, but it doesn’t list the Cap’n Crunch cereal seen in the video among its available products.

The New York Times wrote about the video, saying it had amassed more than 1 million views on Instagram and 600,000 on TikTok. The City Fresh Market’s manager, Dulce Simono, told the newspaper she has tried, but failed, to get the TikTok video removed.

The Times interviewed Stanley Vergilis, Hotspot’s founder, and Joey Cannizarro, its social media manager. They said the video was intended to show the Bushwick store’s prices were overpriced, similar to Erewhon’s, and that they use the videos to call attention to their business. 

The Times reported that Cannizarro, a Bushwick resident, had visited an Erewhon location in California and "noticed some items cost about the same as similar products sold at his local City Fresh," and the video was intended to highlight Bushwick’s gentrification. 

Hotspot’s website and social media accounts don’t clearly state they are producing digitally altered videos.  

We rate the claim that the video shows an Erewhon grocery store in Brooklyn Pants on Fire! 

Our Sources

Hotspot_nyc, Instagram post, Jan. 30, 2024

Hotspot_nyc, TikTok video, Jan. 30, 2024

Erewhon, Locations, accessed March 8, 2024

Yelp, City Fresh Market, accessed March 8, 2024

Google, City Fresh Market - Bushwick, accessed March 8, 2024

Erewhon, Smoothies, accessed March 8, 2024

Erewhon, ​​Cereal, accessed March 8, 2024

The New York Times, The Coolest Grocery Store That Never Existed, March 8, 2024

The New York Times, How Erewhon Became L.A.’s Hottest Hangout, Feb. 17, 2021

The Cut, Erewhon’s Secrets In the 1960s, two macrobiotic enthusiasts started a health-food sect beloved by hippies. Now it’s the most culty grocer in L.A., Nov. 6, 2023

Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times, X post, Dec. 9, 2021 

Los Angeles Times, How Erewhon made luxury groceries a lifestyle: ‘We’re gonna get high off the good stuff!’ Dec. 9, 2021

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More by Jeff Cercone

Erewhon, a trendy California grocer, didn’t open in New York. Video creators said it was a spoof.

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