Key Maps Store Isn’t Shutting Down, but It Is Leaving Its Longtime Home in 493S

Key Maps Store, 1411 W. Alabama St., Montrose, Houston

Key Maps Store, 1411 W. Alabama St., Montrose, HoustonYou have until tomorrow, maybe, to grab some of the cartographic treasures remaining at the longtime Inner Loop home of Key Maps, Houston’s homegrown map company. Items you buy will be 70 percent off — or free if you fish them from the yellow Dumpster parked out front at 1411 W. Alabama. But it’s a pretty chaotic scene, a reader tells us: Framed wall-maps, Key Map books that used to be found in the back seat pocket of most Houston cars, and other items are being loaded into moving trucks in preparation for a relocation to a new storefront at 5622 Richmond Ave., on the north side of the strip near Chimney Rock.


Key Maps Store, 1411 W. Alabama St., Montrose, Houston

Key Maps Store, 1411 W. Alabama St., Montrose, Houston

Key Maps Store, 1411 W. Alabama St., Montrose, Houston

The 6,700-sq.-ft. building with the sixties-ish signage just west of the University of St. Thomas was sold in January; everything inside must go. The new Richmond Ave location isn’t expected to open for a few weeks, however.

Photos: Ayn Morgan

Which Way from West Alabama

18 Comment

  • I hit driving age in 1998 and a CB radio and a Houston key map binder in the back seat was standard protocol. Always amazed this place held out for so long at this location.

  • Anyone know what is happening with this site?

  • My guess is it will become a hip fusion brunch spot that also sells mattresses.

  • Unfortunately I don’t see much of a way forward for Key Maps. Not when almost every adult has in their pocket a device that can instantly locate any location on earth and provide directions from your location along with a satellite map.

  • @Semper Fudge – I could see it filling a niche for decorative or other specialty maps. I had wanted to put some maps up in my apt (old transit maps, world maps) and they were my first thought as far as where to visit. They have a ton of brand equity in Houston.

  • @Semper Fudge, I still use my Key Map. It’s so much easier than trying to navigate maps on a small smartphone screen.

  • Every driver might not need a Key Map in their car any more, but there’s still a lot of specialty mapping business out there that Google Maps has not made obsolete.

  • Wells Fargo got a summary judgment against them last December for defaulting on a $200,000 promissory note. At least they got a deal on the attorney’s fees ($5,865), given the amount of the judgment ($216,587.94). Some less reasonable attorneys would have sought a lot more. Case: Harris County District Court 55th Cause No. 2014-26944- 7 Disposed (Final)

    Not surprised that they are suffering when everyone is using online maps, not to mention aerial/sat-view imagery, and mostly gratis. The days of hard-copy monopoly are long gone. Another example of “disruption” of traditional business models.

  • I bought a new Key Map a couple of months ago and the owner noted the upcoming move and that she had sold to the Menil.

  • @roadchick — I still use my Key Map for the same reason. Recently, I gave directions to my home to a couple of contractors and discovered that they’re still using Key Maps “because they’re more accurate”.

  • @roadchick: If a Key Map is easier than using your smart phone, you may be doing it wrong.
    I don’t look at the smart phone screen. I tell Waze or Google where I want to go, and Waze or Google tells me when and where to turn through a Bluetooth connection to my car’s sound system. Key Maps were never that easy.

  • Like others have said, I’m amazed that the shop has lasted over the decades in Montrose. I still have my Key Map since the roads don’t really change that much (new roads are usually in the hinterlands of our sprawl). I may not use it since Google Maps gets me where I need to go but I still think there’s a place for Key Maps in the here and now.
    Interesting tidbit by one of the commenters about the summary judgment but I’m also glad to know from another comment that they may have sold to Moneybags Menil for hopefully a pretty penny. The Menil can hold on and develop that property and the Key Map owners can move a bit out to save on rent. I wish Key Maps well!

  • Memebag- How big is your phone screen compared to a key map page? Also, the key map is much, much more detailed.

  • I want to buy the globe at the top of their sign.

    Related….If you are telling Waze or Google where I (you) want to go, you must have just moved to Houston. A simple glance at the map to get the major cross streets is all it takes.

    To hear Waze or Google yapping at me is just downright annoying.

  • Actually what I find them most useful for are wall maps. I need to replace my Mapsco Texas map with counties, and Key Maps is where I would head. Not sure I’ll make it there before the move, however.

  • @OldSchool: Please read all of my comment. I don’t use the screen.
    @MidtownCogo: I was born here. Waze calculates the fastest route based on feedback from and the speed of other Waze users, so it knows about traffic jams, road closures, detours, etc., better than any other source. Waze users also report the location of police. That’s been better than any radar detector I’ve ever had, especially now that they use LIDAR. Neither Waze nor Google “yap” at me. They just tell me when a turn is coming up, or that police have been reported ahead.

  • Somewhat of a tangent, but due to next-turn Smartphones people often have no relative idea where they are or the direction they are moving… North, South, East, West? A directional highway sign is only a label to look for, not a source of information.

  • @vwgto: I have news. Most people have no idea what direction they are facing/driving. I have a hard time with left and right (dyslexic) but I almost always know where north is. Most people give me a blank stare when I reference cardinal directions.