The Great W. Alabama Grocery Store Corridor

The addition of H-E-B’s planned new supermarket on Kirby will create — as checkout counter intelligence agent Jason Estrada notes on Twitter — a mile-long corridor along W. Alabama of 4 grocery stores, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and the existing H-E-B off Dunlavy. Already 11 other grocery stores lie within a 2-mile radius of the new H-E-B site, indicated on the far left in the map above.

Food Oasis

38 Comment

  • …and at the same time, more and more of the City moves into a food desert. If you live in a “rich” part of town – you have choices. Just about anywhere else – your choices are limited – unless you have none. This is not a good trend.

  • Don’t forget about Randall’s on the corner of Shepherd and Westheimer.

  • Trader Joe’s is not really a grocery store; more like a glamourized convenient store with crappy products that people think and are told that it is cool.

  • The food desert south of nrg stadium all the way to Pearland desperately needs grocery stores not more family dollar stores

  • @Michael: You’ve described how money works. If having it didn’t give you more choices, why would anyone bother to get it?

  • The HEB on Dunlavy should start taking reservations on Sundays. It’s so busy I’ve just given up and gone home at least once. Central Market is about the same. The Randall’s at Westheimer and Shepherd is a ghost town, I’m not sure how they are staying in business. I think Montrose could use at least one, maybe two more HEBs. We need HEB to replace the Kroger at River Oaks shopping center. On having more choices when living in a rich area…. that’s one of the many good things about being rich. Being poor sucks.

  • The new HEB is a waste of resources. Market-based economies can be quite efficient but they can also feed on themselves and the latest HEB addition is an example of that.

  • These stores would be more easily accessible to those who live in food deserts if only METRO hadn’t discontinued the 78 Alabama bus line.

  • I thought HEB was planning to develop the almost entirely vacant Shepherd Plaza area at Richmond and Greenbriar?? That seems like a much more suitable location that could be accessed by multiple neighborhoods and has a ton of space for parking. I already avoid the Whole Foods because the Kirby/Alabama intersection is soo congested.

  • @BigTex…if the high-speed rail line ever gets built down Richmond then it could be even more advantageous for HEB to build out the Shepherd Plaza center.

  • I’ve been told by someone who talked with an employee of that store that the Randall’s on Shepherd and Westheimer does most of its business in the middle of the night, filling up trucks carrying groceries to the ships in the ship channel, or something like that. Any ordinary consumer retail business they do is just gravy.

  • RBJ: What about trader joes isn’t a “real” grocery store? We buy most of our food there. NOt because someone told us it was cool, but because we love the food, the service, and the prices.
    I think the opposite is true. People like to make comments like yours as they’ve replaced the hipster “I don’t even own a TV” comments that people used to make to sound hip.

  • The rich get nicer things. Wish my neighborhood had a two story HEB..

  • Hopefully delivery / drive-thru pickup services and amazon using whole foods as warehouses can eliminate a majority of grocery store runs for folks and cut these businesses traffic patterns down dramatically.
    Definitely a need for more parking and more efficient checkout methods. Absolutely no need for more grocery storage space.
    I always wonder what percentage of these stores margins/business go to non-grocery items; alcohol, prepared foods, pharmacy, etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if pharmacy margins alone can support blanketing the entire area in grocery stores.

  • Alcohol is not a grocery item? Since When? It has always been a staple in my house.

  • Richer areas get more grocery stores? What!?!? I can understand getting fancier stores, but more stores on a per capital basis? I feel confident in saying that the difference between the quantity of groceries that poorer people buy compared to richer is negligible. Sure it might be ground beef and rice compared to salmon steaks and quinoa BUT POOR PEOPLE EAT TOO.

  • Meyerland, Buffalo Heights, now River Oaks? Every neighborhood seems to be getting a new grocery store. Oh well, we’ll always have the old Firsta Mart here down south, on Cullen & Bellfort. I remember hearing about plans of an HEB being built on Macgregor and 288. The current one on OST is pretty old.

  • @Cody: I wanted to like Trader Joe’s, but I couldn’t find anything to eat there. It’s mostly pre-packaged, pre-made stuff, like you find in a convenience store. A lot of cookies and frozen dinners. The beer and wine selection was tiny. No beer cooler at all when I went, so non-pasteurized beer won’t be at its best.

  • @Shrub: I can’t buy beer during my weekly grocery shopping on Sunday mornings. It’s what Jesus wants, for us to attend church before getting drunk

  • So, does this constitute a Food Swamp? Food Miasma?
    Food Fog.

  • LOL at “food deserts” – a concept that can be defined, and redefined, in perpetuity. Does anyone doubt that “food deserts” will still exist in 20, 50, 100 years by whatever metrics neccessary?

  • Fiesta, Shepard Square:. For years I’ve heard that Grocers Supply, owner of Fiesta was/is really trying to get the Randall’s, Shepard Square space. Waiting for lease to end or to negotiate for it.

  • Not sure why they’re opting to put in an HEB across from another supermarket. It’s a good site for a mixed-use development, but if they wanted to put in a store 1 mile from the existing Montrose Market, it would have made more sense to find a site in the Museum District and/or Rice Village areas, neither of which have any grocery stores within a 1-mile radius.

  • Ha, food desert. Why are a many people mad that a private business can choose it locations? I am pretty sure every grocery store wants to turn a profit, and they chose their store locations based how it will return on their investment. I mean if people think they understand where grocery stores need to go better than people that are employed by the grocery stores, then why not just open your own grocery store?

  • Commenter A: Ermagerd! Dunlavy HEB is so crowded I just give up sometimes.
    Commenter B (two comments later): Dumb capitalists are wasting resources by overbuilding.
    Here’s another way of thinking about whether two grocery stores are too close to one another: how far would you walk to get groceries? A quarter mile? Half a mile? Double that distance, and that’s about the optimum spacing. In urban, walkable areas, operators will frequently space their stores 2000 to 4000 ft apart.

  • @GoogleMaster – Seems like supplying groceries to the ship channel could be done somewhere with much cheaper rent.

  • @Christian There is a Fiesta in the Museum District

  • @progg yes, poor people eat too, but let’s run a scenario.
    Rich man lives at Holcome and Greenbriar. is he going to go to the HEB on OST or Buffalo Speedway? If the buffalo speedway store is packed, is he going to go to OST, or Dunlavy?
    Rich man is never going to the OST HEB. it’s never going to happen, they are too scared of the location.
    There are just more people that go to Rich man HEB than Poor man HEB. it’s sad, but true.

  • @Paul Isn’t it in Midtown? But yes, I’m aware of its existence, whichever neighborhood it technically belongs to. It’s still well outside of comfortable walking distance of most of the Museum District–about a mile from the actual museum area, on the other side of US-59.

  • I get that grocery store developers are more apt to locate in denser and/or wealthier areas than poorer or emptier ones.
    What aggravates me is that WITHIN those wealthy areas, developers insist on clustering 2 or 3 competing grocery stores literally right across the street from each other, rather than spacing them out every couple of miles or so.
    Current paradigm results in fewer people having the ability to walk to the grocery store, more people having to drive longer distances, and miserable traffic near these grocery store clusters (because EVERYTHING is right there).

  • @ Grant: While i understand that grocery store clustering grinds your gears, the phenomenon is not limited to grocery stores. For example, if a Walgreens lands on a corner, CVS is usually soon to follow. If a Wells Fargo sets up shop, a Chase may soon appear.
    Simply put, competitive forces are behind this which does make logical sense. If a Kroger customer is in the vicinity, HEB will want to try to poach that same customer – and it makes it easier if their store is across from the Kroger. A lot less likelihood to poach the customer if the customer has to get in a car and travel a mile down the road.
    I’m actually in favor of these clusters – it makes it easier to play off the rivals against each other. Same product, cheaper prices, and close in proximity.

  • Yeah, I’ve observed the same phenomenon with other businesses. But I find it most annoying when it comes to grocery stores and big-box stores, because of their outsize traffic impacts on surrounding areas, and because I patronize them far more regularly than banks, Dr offices, etc.
    Not sure if I agree with the poaching logic though. Wouldn’t some grocery stores be inclined to stake out territory in areas with lots of customers, but with no direct competitors (especially in a built-out area where it would be difficult or impossible for a competitor to move in next door)?
    I guess I’d expect that, especially in the densest parts of the city where traffic can be terrible, more grocery stores would focus on being as close to customers as possible, rather than as close to competitors as possible. This was the case when I lived in Europe – you’d almost never see two grocery stores next to each other. You’d see more, smaller grocery stores scattered around the city, each serving a particular neighborhood.

  • 4 grocery stores in the same mile of West Alabama is a pretty good selection. Reminds me of the Westheimer Supermarket Battle Royale near the Westchase area, where Fiesta, Phoenicia, HEB, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Target, and Whole Foods are vying for your food dollars in a 2 mile stretch.

  • While we are demanding things of Houston grocery store free market, I want AppleTree to come back to Houston. I dont really care where, I will let yall tell them that. I just miss AppleTree.

  • The Briargrove / Tanglewood neighborhood has an embarrassment of grocery businesses.9kkk, Two Amazon/Whole Foods stores, one HEB, one Trader Joe’s, one Kroger and a Randall’s. I’m never moving!

  • Having previously lived in the middle of a bunch of grocery stores in West U and currently near no grocery stores (although only a few miles from a Randalls/HEB/Kroger megaplex and about six miles from the famous Westchase “Battle Royale”), I prefer the latter option. It’s not worth fighting terrible traffic everyday just so that my weekly grocery store visit is more convenient.
    I do still wish we could have one decent grocery store nearby.