A look into Houston's retail past

Sunoco’s attempt at earning their Stripes

In this fast-paced world of corporate acquisitions it sometimes gets confusing as to who owns what. Family owned concerns are getting harder to find as time goes on, often selling to firms promising an investment that never comes. Stripes was no stranger to all this confusion, having gone from arguably the strongest independent chain in Texas to a subsidiary of 7-Eleven in the short span of only 3 years. Stripes started out as a family owned company in Corpus Christi in 1938, with the actual Stripes we know and love debuting in 2006. It would quickly grow a fan base in areas underserved by traditional chains all the way up until their sale to Sunoco. After the sale Stripes would continue to run as an independent division. One of the most immediate effects was a switch in branding from Stripes gasoline to Sunoco gas. Other superficial changes would take place, like Stripes moving their management to Dallas, and Sunoco experimenting with Laredo Taco Co locations in existing locations.

Overall things looked good for the company, and to celebrate this success one of the first projects under new leadership was a redesign of traditional Stripes stores. Ditching the lego brick look for roomier more modern looking stores. The new stores featured open ceilings, updated design packages, and a slightly modified sales floor layout. Overall the changes were a positive mark for Stripes beings received well by their customers. A good number of new locations would be built throughout 2016 and 2017, but construction would stop by the time Sunoco finalized the sale of their entire C-Store division to 7-Eleven. With the new parent company more interested in expanding their brand into Texas, Stripes would be slowly disassembled, with their Support Center (in a former Wal-Mart) closing by the end of 2018 effectively killing of Stripes as anything more than a brand name and promotional tool.

In the end, this is quite a sad story in my opinion. Not because 7-Eleven is choosing to build their own stores over these Stripes prototypes but because you can tell lots of time and effort went into designing this generation of store. Even as an over merchandised 7-Eleven the building still manages to feel roomy, and open. I could really see these stores taking off, so it makes me a bit melancholy to see all this effort abandoned. Thankfully we did at least end up with the stores we got, and experience tell us that the folks behind Stripes will likely be back one day.

What do you think?