Groceries out of the Box: H-E-B Has a Hands-Off Policy at Joe V’s Smart Shop

Today was opening day for the third-ever Joe V’s Smart Shop, H-E-B’s growing chain of low-cost supermarkets. How low-cost are we talking? Well, put it this way: Checkers at the store won’t even touch your money. That’s right: You’ll be sliding it into a Wincor Nixdorf iCash register yourself — it sucks up your bills and coins and spits back change. And for a good number of the groceries you buy, you’ll be unpacking the items yourself too, directly from the boxes they were shipped in — just like you would at a big-box warehouse store. In the 51,000-sq.-ft. space carved out of a former Kmart at 12009 Northwest Fwy., on the west side of Hwy. 290 at 43rd St., the boxes and pallets are the displays:


No, not a lot of variety here, but Joe V’s plans to make up for it . . . in volume. The store carries only 6,500 of the area’s “most popular” grocery items, according to H-E-B — that’s fewer even than were planned for the prototype on Antoine that opened last year, and one-fifth the number available at a typical market.

Photos: Candace Garcia

34 Comment

  • What the heck does the store’s operation and how they ring you out have to do with real estate????

  • Whoo hoooooooooooooooooo Gonna check this out this weekend. Thanks for the heads up that its open!

  • Shop smart. Shop…S-Mart.

  • I hate HEB…but I’m also cheap. I guess I’ll have to break my “don’t go inside HEB” policy for this one.

  • At a residential level the available amenities and infrastructure are absolutely key to an understanding of the market.

    At a commercial level the store and it’s fixtures are real estate.

  • Screw HEB.

    The outfit is a corporate parasite, trying to suck a few more $$$ out of the neighborhood with the Wilshire Village HEB store.

    And Scott McClelland, thanks for the cluster-fuck your new store construction has brought to a relatively quiet corner of a once peaceful neighborhood.

  • Similar store concept is located in D/FW area, Sack N Save, a keep it low-key pack it yourself kind of store, food choices were terrible. If an item can sit on a pallet for months until purchased it is not food.

  • So no snark about ruining the ambiance and historical significance of the former K-Mart???? Some folks must not have had their coffee yet…

  • markd, I’m interested in your ideas that companies shouldn’t try to maximize the amount of money they make by servicing communities where they foresee demand.

    (I know I said I hate HEB upthread, but it’s because I find the shopping experience there unpleasant, not because I have a bizarre misconception of people making money honestly.)

  • Is this like Aldi?

  • sounds just like the HEB i remember from the 90’s. that may be because i’m from pasadena and we only got the crap stores though.

  • Hope they build one of these in the Heights.

  • markd-Peaceful neighborhood. Now that made me chuckle. Did u complain when Burlington opened? What about Petco and Starbucks? Get over yourself.
    ANd when did the mods allow the F word here?

  • #13, at 9:20 am, to be precise.

  • From someone who actually lives a few blocks away, the store was in the rear portion of a strip-mall megalot. I don’t know what construction impositions markd is talking about.

    If anything, it’s good to see another new business moving into the area instead of more vacant space sitting idly(recently, gained Los Cucos off Mangum).

    Also, from a grocery perspective, the Randalls just an exit further in at 34th, has crappy meat selection, overpsrays their produce(way too much of it bagged and not fresh, like spinach, b.sprouts, etc.) and never has enough cashiers on duty. With the Krogers at Antoine and Tidwell closing a few weeks ago, this is Randall’s chance to either step up and compete or be a victim.

  • Hey hardworkingwoman, the neighborhood is(was) a pretty peaceful place, you probably don’t get out much though… and the F-word get your panties in a wad? You should probably get over your self.

    Mel, there’s been free speech on Swamplot since I can remember, and I like to use the speech freely.

    No problem with any stores you mentioned HWW, and I’m not against HEB, except that they should have located on Shepherd,Kirby, Westheimer, or in any commercial district that can handle the traffic…

  • I don’t get the point of the checkout lines unless HEB is going after the Lone Star Card crowd and doesn’t trust their target market. If the customer has to (1) unload the “groceries” onto the conveyor belt, (2) swipe their card or stuff their money into one of those stupid machines that spits the money back out, and (3) bag their “groceries,” they might as well have one minimum wage employee monitor a bank of self-serve checkout stations. I guess HEB doesn’t trust Lone Star Card customers to actually scan each and every box.

    And don’t worry about HEB hiring a bunch of minimum-wage workers to scan groceries at all those check-out lines. In typical HEB fashion, there will never be more than two checkout lines actually open.

  • Shit, this would have to be FREE food before I would venture there.

  • At Central Market you’re a rat in a maze and at this place you’re cattle in a barn.

    And when one of these pops up near your home, your neighborhood has officially gone

  • markd:
    Oh Mark I do get out alot. I work every freaking day and have lived in Houston since 1971. I pass that intersection twice a day. If you think your part of town is nice, thats too freaking funny! Its run down and old! Why do you think they would build that type of store over there. Did you expect a Whole Foods to come in there. You get over yourself and so you know, I dont wear panties.

  • DanaX
    lol Ghetto hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  • Damn I was hoping for a great grocery store, since the only thing close by is Randall’s on 34th and Kroger on 43rd and Central market is too far for a quick buying trip. Danax is right, another ghetto business in a ghetto neighborhood.

  • Have any of you even been there? Oak Forest isn’t Ghetto.

  • “another ghetto business in a ghetto neighborhood,”

    What, were you expecting a Sachs Fifth Avenue?

  • It seems very practical. I would like to shop there sometime soon.

  • Speaking of getting panties in a wad… don’t shoot the messenger, someone asked when the mods let people use the f-word, and I helpfully pointed out the time of your post. Congrats on your use of the “f” word! Yay!

  • I just went there.

    markd, this store is for poor people. They need food, and the prices are great. Don’t complain about a store opening up to service people who are otherwise underserved. It’s snobby and moronic.

    Now, I’m not poor, but I like great prices and I am not a snob, so I spent $67 there.

  • I happened to drive by on this weekend a few times and the parking lot was packed! It was never this full when there was a K-Mart, Service Merchandise and a Toys R Us operating (unless it was last minute shopping time at Christmas). I realize it’s still new, but there were freakin’ cars parked from the storefronts all the way to 43rd.

  • Spoonman – re-read my post. I was bellyaching about the Wilshire Village HEB, where HEB and the CoH don’t have a problem F’ng up a relatively quiet piece of an old neighborhood to suck a couple $$$s out of it.

  • markd, it’ll only suck money out of the neighborhood if the residents spend money there.

    In other words, if they want it.

  • Having lived in Oak Forest in the past, this store is not in Oak Forest. Oak Forest has one final section (21) on that side of 290, but on the other side of the bayou from this shopping center. This center has been rather blighted for many years. The area adjacent and behind it is pretty “ghetto” as several have put it. The other 20 sections of Oak Forest, as well as Forest West and Mangum Manor are all on the other side of 290.

  • there’s no ‘section 21’ (…or 20) of Oak Forest

    we stopped by Joe V’s a couple days ago and will probably never go back; no doubt, semi-ok prices (probably on par with Kroger’s on-sale prices) but the place was crazy packed.

    not that it’s that big of a deal but after at least 5 minutes of walking around specifically looking for plain ol'(white) vinegar, i gave up and figured they didn’t sell it….then just drove to Kroger’s and bought everything just like normal.

  • joe v’s real low prices, why do people complain too much about something good especially men,lets go back to manhood and say something good.

  • The space is the former Service Merchandise, not Kmart (Venture)