A look into Houston's retail past

Memories of Highway 6

Growing up on the West Side of town meant when you wanted to go shopping you generally had to drive a bit. Around the time I entered Middle School my family moved from rural Richmond, to a suburb near Clodine. Driving in East on 1093, meant we would usually end up in one of the many shopping centers around Highway 6 and Westheimer. My family moved again shortly after I started college giving me little reason to visit the area. I took some time to visit the area, and see how things are going.

Originally an Eckerd later a CVS, the prime location helped attract a new tenant quickly.

 

This was one of the first Stripes locations in Houston. At one point Stripe’s owned the Ice Box brand as well. Notice the original atm sign.

 

Most of the decor in the store remains unchanged from this store’s days as a Stripes.

 

The former Laredo Taco Co. remains mostly unchanged although they now go by the name “Jack’s Taqueria”

Due to living in the city now, my journey began heading Westbound. I noticed the former Eckerd turned CVS at Westheimer and Eldridge has closed, and is in the process of being converted to La Michocana. I also got a chance to stop at what was one of the first Stripe’s locations I ever saw. It has since been converted into an Ice Box location, but still mostly resembles Stripes.

Once a Big Kmart, after a decent vacancy Burlington moved in. They closed in early 2019 moving to Eldridge.

 

The Builder’s Square was subdivided with Floor and Decor predating the Trampoline Park by at least 5 years.

 

These buildings were an Office Depot on the left, and a Service Merchandise on the right. The S.M. later became a Conn’s which moved across the street when Academy expanded.

Making it to Highway 6, we begin with the shopping center at the South East corner. This shopping center has seen major changes with no original anchor tenants from it’s late 90’s opening surviving past the mid-2000s. The three restaurants, and some smaller tenants are original. However, they recently lost Party City and Burlington to the newer center on Eldridge. With the Burlington replacing a Gander Mountain.

The label scar from Circuit City still remains to this day.

 

Across the street the Sears Auto Center sits abandoned.

 

This started life as a Pier One, later Goodwill moved in. They would stay here until Office Depot vacated.

Moving down Highway 6 a bit, vacant commercial space is abundant. Strangely for the most part the vacant spaces shown here are newer. Vacancy at most of these shopping centers hit its peak in the early 2000s. While it’s not at the level it was back then, things are noticeably light.

I spent many evenings at this Joe’s Crab Shack. It was a fun place for my parents to get cheap drinks, and feed us essentially for free.

 

The former James Coney Island, was recently vacated. Some time in late 2018.

The Northern side of these shopping centers has always been very food focused. With the exception of Chili’s, pretty much every food choice on the North side has changed. It was fun to go back and visit somewhere I had spent so much time at during my youth. Some aspects haven’t changed, but many have. For the most part the changes mark the changes in the neighborhood.

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Reader Comments

  1. Here had I been thinking that the former Service Merchandise was a former Wilson’s like at Katy Freeway, which had been downscaled to have a Office Depot when Service Merchandise took over (it was there even back in the late 1980s). It was built in 1994, however with only a 51,000 square foot footprint (closer to the Service Merchandise at 43rd/290). As the chain’s fortunes decreased, they did downsize a number of showrooms shortly before going out of business altogether, this was probably one of them.

  2. The former K-Mart which later became Burlington Coat Factory was originally a Venture department store when the building first opened in the mid 1990s. The Venture store later converted into a Kmart sometime in the late 90s/early 2000s. It would then become Burlington by the mid/late 2000s

    1. You’re right! I’ve got a complete list of Venture locations, but for some reason that completely slipped my mind.

      1. I’ll have to double check, but I don’t think 6 & Empanada closed after Kmart converted that Venture. I’m pretty sure it actually made it to the Houston closings. Most stores to close prior to that were built in the 60s/70s.

        1. I’ve lived in Mission Bend since 1998 and I remember almost everything that used to be out here. I remember the Mercado opening up some time in late 2002 and simultaneously going to the Venture Kmart on Hwy 6. If both stores were in operation at the same time for a short while, I wonder why Kmart opted to keep two stores so close to each other open. What is your opinion on that? I find it rather strange.

          1. Took a jog of my memory and a bit of digging, but I figured it out. I was confusing it on the list with the N. Highway 6 location. Highway 6 & Empanada, closed very quietly as early as Christmas 1997. Which was when the new Venture locations opened.

            1. So basically Mission Bend went without a Kmart for about a year and the closing of the Hwy 6/Empanada store was not related to the Venture buyout. Used to love going to the Hwy 6/Westheimer location for the popcorn and cotton candy they had at the front of the store (I was a kid at the time). Did you hear that the Hwy 6/Westheimer location is poised to become a multipurpose center for Alief ISD? It will be really interesting to see how they convert the building.

  3. As someone who always wanted to get into the restaurant business, I always said that I would have loved to rent out the former Builder Square’s garden center area and convert it into a large outdoor patio cafe. Would have complimented the operating trampoline park greatly. Right now, I sometimes see homeless people camping out underneath the ex-garden center’s large canopy and it’s sad.

    1. Just seeing this now, but man that’s a great idea. There used to be lots of nice restaurants in the area. That whole shopping center was a black hole for years outside of the restaurants in the parking lot. I think there was even a point where the only stores open were those along the small strip center on 6 with the dry cleaner.

      Still a nice patio restaurant would have worked great. I think that the Event Hall in the Mission Bend Kmart operated a restaurant before converting to event hall, but my memories of this area from that time period obviously isn’t stellar.

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