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The Slow Unveiling: Amazon Fresh is about to open in Brookfield

BROOKFIELD, CT – The time for secrecy is over: Crews have finished installing a large Amazon Fresh sign above the entrance to 14 Candlewood Lake Road, leaving little doubt about the business taking place in the vacant building.

Brookfield First Selectwoman Tara Carr confirmed the identity of the new tenant at TJ Maxx’s former location and said she understands Brookfield’s location will be the first Amazon Fresh in New England.

Maybe. The Boston Business Journal reported that another low-key, yet-to-be-launched Amazon Fresh site in Saugus, Mass., would possess that distinction.

“I think Amazon is a great business partner,” Carr told Patch. “And I think they’re going to create quality jobs for the community.”

Exactly when that will happen is anyone’s guess. Carr hasn’t received any indication when Amazon Fresh will cut the ribbon on its Candlewood Lake Plaza location.

The former Amazon employee said the retail giant’s secret shenanigans were nothing new to her.

“I started the site at Exit 8 (in Danbury) for Amazon’s logistics warehouse. And they’re pretty low-key,” she said. “They need to ‘try’ everything before even saying when they’re going to open.”

The company unofficially switched hands in early May when it began posting job openings for Amazon Fresh workers in Brookfield online. Three places are available from Friday morning.

Amazon’s rise in the grocery business has been meteoric. The retail leviathan acquired Whole Foods in June 2017. In September 2020, the company opened its first Amazon Fresh store, a 35,000 square foot operation in a mall in Woodland Hills, California. A Huntington Beach location became the 15th Amazon Fresh in California and 31st nationally, when it opened last week.

Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh are different animals. The former continues to emphasize branded organics, while the new kid on the block leans heavily on state-of-the-art systems that grease the rails at checkout. The operation’s Just Walk Out technology tracks customers as they shop and automatically charges their account or bank card when they walk out.

“Amazon Fresh is a new grocery store designed from the ground up to provide a seamless grocery experience whether customers shop in-store or online,” said Jeff Helbling, vice president of Amazon Fresh Stores. “We’ve leveraged our decades of operations experience to deliver consistently low prices for everyone, plus free same-day delivery and pickup for Prime members.”