“Now we know why we seem to have hit peak mattress along Westheimer,” declares Christopher Andrews, after producing and walking through a series of maps intended to shed light on where in the Houston area and why Mattress Firm has opened 92 separate showrooms, and is working on another 19 for the lower-priced “competitor” the same company operates, Mattress Pro. The highlights from his analysis are the 2 maps excerpted here, showing (at top) the correlation between areas with lots of apartments (dark green) and the stores (red for Mattress Firm, blue for the usually outside-the-Loop Mattress Pro); and (above) a Learning from Las Vegas-style diagram of Houston’s very own Mattress Corridor.
Houston may be the sleepy chain store’s hometown, but it’s not the only beneficiary of all that new retail padding; in the 14 weeks ending February 3rd alone, Mattress Firm opened or acquired 118 new U.S. stores.
Maps: Christopher Andrews
Behind the Mattress Store Boom
NOW IT’S 2 MATTRESS STORES MOVING IN RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER AT THE CORNER OF WESTHEIMER AND MONTROSE Montrose watchdogs worried about the aura of chain-store sameness about to descend on the center-of-it-all corner of Westheimer Rd. and Montrose Blvd. once the new Mattress Firm store opens in the former Blockbuster Video spot at 1002 Westheimer: The nation’s largest purveyor of all things mattress understands your concerns. That’s why, this time, it’s mixing it up. As reporter Katherine Feser discovers, a separate store for the same company’s lower-priced (and normally outside-the-Loop) chain, Mattress Pro, will be moving in right next door. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Katherine Feser/Houston Chronicle
The formerly bedding-starved heart of Montrose can now rest easy: Mattress Firm has arrived. The nation’s largest mattress retailer has snagged a new location in the former Blockbuster Video spot at 1002 Westheimer Rd. in the Westmont Shopping Center — right at the prominent corner of Montrose and Westheimer. With a mere 98 locations in the greater Houston area, and only 14 in the Inner Loop, Mattress Firm was certainly fortunate to be able to find this prominent spot. Now customers in the dead center of Montrose daunted by the long journey necessary to reach the company’s other outlets — at the corner of West Gray and Montrose (three-quarters of a mile to the north), at the corner of Westheimer and Shepherd (1.2 miles west), or at 2625 Louisiana St. (a mile to the east) will have a place they can travel to more easily — and, of course, rest a bit when they get there.
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Mattress Firm Scores Again
32 OF 77 HOUSTON AREA RADIO SHACKS ARE ON THE CLOSURE LIST ALREADY Will that Radio Shack near you be closing, now that the electronics chain has declared bankruptcy? Probably. Of its 4,000 U.S. stores, up to 1,750 appear to be slated to become locations for mobile phone company Sprint. Separately, Radio Shack released on its website a list of 1,784 “potential store closures” — without noting explicitly if the identified locations, listed in 3 separate tranches, were headed for rebranding or outright shuttering. 32 of those stores are in the Houston area. [Quartz; list] Photo of Radio Shack at 4367 Kingwood Dr. (not on the closure list): Ms. Ruby O
20 PERCENT OFF ALL OFFICEMAX AND OFFICE DEPOT LOCATIONS A total 400 OfficeMax and Office Depot stores will shut down nationwide — 150 of them by the end of the year, the combined company announced today. Office Depot bought OfficeMax last year, resulting in a dual-named office-products giant with 1,900 locations. No specific closings have been announced yet for this round; the Houston area still has 28 Office Depots and 10 OfficeMaxes, according to website store locators. Earlier this year, Staples announced it would close 225 stores; it’s now down from 11 to 9 Houston-area spots. [AP; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 3443 Kirby Dr. location: Douglas W.
A JOLT TO STRIP CENTERS EVERYWHERE Radio Shack announced this morning that it plans to close up to one-fifth of its U.S. stores. News had leaked earlier this month that the
Dallas Fort Worth-based electronics chain had plans to close about 500 “underperforming” locations. This morning’s announcement brings that number up to 1,100, but no specific stores have been identified for shuttering. There are more than 80 Radio Shack locations in the greater Houston area. [Wall St. Journal] Photo: News92FM
SPROUTS FAR OUT The Sprouts Farmers Market grocery chain’s long-awaited Houston-area landing will begin with 3 outside the Beltway locations next year. Sprouts scout Ed Page of UCR MoodyRambin Page says leases have already been signed for a 25,300-sq.-ft. spot at the southwest corner of Cinco Ranch Blvd. and Peek Rd.; for a 29,000-sq.-ft. store at FM 529 and Hwy. 6 in the Copperfield Village Shopping Center; and for a 28,000-sq.-ft. location off the Tomball Pkwy. at Spring Cypress Rd. in the Spring Cypress Village shopping center. Page tells reporter Shaina Zucker leases are being negotiated for several other sites. The southwest organic-friendly chain swallowed up competitor Sunflower Farmers Markets earlier this year. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Colorado store: Sprouts
GAMESTOP’S APPLE-POLISHING STRATEGY Strip-center mainstay GameStop has a new strategy to keep itself from going the way of video-game cartridges: changing its business in the direction of another strip-center mainstay: the mobile phone store. The company began a program of buying used iPhones last fall; it’s now ready to remake itself as a leading reseller of used Apple gadgets. Company employees are working on coming up to speed on repairing Android devices as well. Seventy-one of the Texas chain’s 6,600 locations are in the greater Houston area. Sixty stores around the country have already begun selling prepaid wireless plans; an analyst suggests selling phone plans to go with used phones could become a big new business for the chain. [SF Chronicle] Photo of GameStop Outlet at Westheimer and Hwy. 6: Dr. Mario Kart
WHERE THE ALDIS ARE GOING, SO FAR Only about a month after announcing plans to pepper the Houston market with 30 Aldi discount supermarkets over the next 3 years — with a third of them up and running by next spring, the Trader Joe’s cousin has already bought 2 properties to go with the already announced location just outside Oak Park Trails in Katy: 2.8 acres at Fairmont Parkway and Watters Road in Pasadena, and 2.5 acres at Hwy. 6 and West Bellfort in Sugar Land. [Real Estate Bisnow; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Aldi in Ohio: Deerfield Construction
CAMERA STORES CRYING WOLF Didn’t the country’s biggest retail camera chain already declare bankruptcy and close a bunch of its Wolf Camera and Ritz Camera stores in Houston? Yeah, but that was back in 2009; now the successor company is going down that path again, a couple years after bouncing out of bankruptcy protection. In a news release, the company’s restructuring officer makes it all sound like part of a pretty picture: “To achieve our strategic vision of a super-store chain offering unique value-added services . . . it became necessary to implement this vision through a Chapter 11 filing.” Ritz Camera & Image, which has its headquarters in Maryland, is “evaluating which of its 265 stores to close, including at least three stores in the Houston area.” [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot]] Photo of Rice Village store: Wolf Camera
TRADER JOE’S LESS-LOVED COUSIN MOVING INTO HOUSTON IN A BIG WAY Aldi isn’t exactly Trader Joe’s without the hype, but the 2 grocery chains are owned by sister companies from Germany. (Aldi Nord operates 1,200 stores in the U.S., mostly in the eastern half; Trader Joe’s is owned by Aldi Süd) Both of them specialize in private-label products. And they’ll be traveling in some of the same circles too: While Trader Joe’s is opening a measly 3 stores in the Houston area this year, its bigger and cheaper cousin has just announced a much grander Houston-opening gambit (after plans for a store outside Katy’s Oak Park Trails subdivision were met by protests from some neighbors earlier this year). The company now says it plans to invest $100 million to open 30 new Aldi stores in the Houston area over the next 3 years. And at least 10 of them should be open by next spring. There are already 37 Aldis in Texas, mostly near Dallas and Fort Worth. [Instant News Katy; PR Newswire] Photo: Garth Schweizer
BLAST BEGINS TOTAL HOUSTON TAKEOVER OF BALLY TOTAL FITNESS Today’s the day all 18 remaining Texas locations of Bally Total Fitness — including 9 in Houston — are scheduled to switch over to control by their new owner, Blast! Fitness. Before it bought 39 clubs in 9 states from the struggling chain in a deal announced earlier this month, Blast was an operator of only 15 gyms in 4 northern states. Last year, Bally sold 171 clubs nationwide to LA Fitness, but held onto all of its Houston locations. Blast says it’ll honor all Bally memberships; transferred Bally members will also still be able to work out in the 60 remaining Bally clubs in other states. [Club Industry] Photo of Bally Total Fitness at 9801 Katy Fwy.: MetroNational
A PEEK INSIDE HOUSTON’S NEW J. CREW NO. 2 That topless mannequin will likely have a coverup before tomorrow’s grand opening of the J. Crew inside CityCentre. A Swamplot reader snapped this peekaboo photo of the store’s innards yesterday, through a gap in the window paper. The only other J. Crew store in Houston is in the Galleria (there’s also one in the Katy Mills Mall). Photo: Swamplot inbox
FUDDRUCKERS GROWING INSIDE LUBY’S Seven months after converting a Luby’s takeout room on the I-10 East Fwy. into a Fuddruckers Express drive-thru (shown in the photo at left), the company behind the 2 chains is building its first-ever combo restaurant from scratch, Catie Brubaker reports. Construction will begin next month on a new 12,000-sq.-ft. Luby’s-and-Fuddruckers hybrid on a 2-acre site at 11023 Shadowcreek Pkwy., at the northern end of Shadow Creek Ranch in Pearland. This time the Fuddruckers will be a bit bigger, though, taking up a full 2,500 sq. ft. of the building, plus an additional 1,000 sq. ft. of shared kitchen-and-storage space. Expected opening: August. [Real Estate Bisnow; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Luby’s