Retail News: Ollie’s Bargain Outlet comes to Houston!

Good Stuff, Cheap will soon be available in Northwest Houston as Ollie’s Bargain outlet prepares to open their first Houston location sometime this summer. While no official statement has been made by the company, a newly hung banner has confirmed online suspicions that an Ollie’s location will soon fill part of the former Target in the Steeplechase Center at the intersection of Jones Road and F.M. 1960. Anonymous in Houston also found online job postings for the new location. This marks the second permanent tenant for the former Target since the store relocated closer to 290 in the early 2000s. The building was subdivided by Planet Fitness who occupied the far-right portion from 2013 until moving down Jones Road into the Former Sears Hardware in 2019, but has otherwise sat vacant. At this point it appears that Ollie’s will likely take the far left space, which as of 2021 has been walled off from the remaining empty Target space. This plan will give Ollie’s more space, than the Fitness Center but will not take the remainder of the builder either. Ollie’s specializes in selling closeout merchandise, bankruptcy buyouts, and other oddities. The stores resemble Big Lots of years past, with a random mix of items from different retailers, and a good amount of brand name merchandise all for cheap.

Here’s to hoping Ollie’s doesn’t mess with the old Target facade. Not too often you see those awesome front windows!

While this may be the first time some readers have heard of Ollie’s their entry into Houston is not unexpected. The company began work on a new distribution center in Lancaster, a suburb of Dallas, in 2018. In the meantime, the company began to open stores throughout the North and Central Texas areas. After the 2019 bankruptcy of Toys “R” Us it seemed that Ollie’s was poised to pick up many of their former locations, and while they did snag some in Texas this did not end up playing out as portrayed in the news with Ollie’s only ending up in about 30 TRU locations nationwide by 2020. In April of this year Ollie’s opened their closest location to Houston, only a hop, skip, and a jump, down in Clute. This store takes up about half of a former Kroger Signature store, I would recommend anyone excited for Ollie’s check out this new store!

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  1. I’m so excited Ollie’s is coming to town! I’ve been shopping at one in Cincinnati when visiting family. Their selection of books is extensive with super prices. A great choice of rugs and a variety of food is waiting for us too! With so many of my favorite stores closing, I’m thrilled Ollie’s is opening close by!

    1. Me too! I actually learned about them while in Ohio as well. The stores I’ve seen in Texas have slightly different decor, a little less wacky, but just as cheesy and the same product selections you’d expect.

  2. That report you linked to about the various tenants backfilling vacant TRU boxes was very interesting, thanks for sharing. I’m very surprised that the authors were only able to track 30 Ollie’s locations. It feels like that number should be much higher, not only because of the news portrayals but also because it really does seem like I’ve seen pictures of many such conversions — perhaps I’ve simply seen all 30, and there are no more out there beyond that, haha! I have been to four of those 30 myself, which is over one-tenth of the Ollie’s conversions, lol. I’d forgotten about one of those when I’ve been responding to all the excitement of Houston’s first Ollie’s in other comments recently, so it turns out I’ve actually been to five Ollie’s stores since the time they entered Memphis and Mississippi. As I’ve said elsewhere, one of those is head and shoulders above the rest in my opinion, but I still find Ollie’s to be a great store overall and I’m sure Houston shoppers will enjoy it.

  3. This is really exciting news! I’ve been expecting Ollie’s to enter Houston for the past few months since they’ve been getting closer and closer with new locations around the Houston area like the Clute store. I never did expect the first Houston Ollie’s to be in my part of town though!

    In addition to that, I’m excited that Ollie’s chose the Steeplechase shopping center for their store. That shopping center started out as an early 1980s version of a powercenter before that word even existed I’m guessing. It had Target, Best Products, Bealls/Palais Royal, Weingarten’s (Grand Union era)/Safeway, Walgreens, Wyatt’s Cafeteria, The Black-Eyed Pea, Captain D’s, and more. Without any real prime tenants in recent years except for Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only perhaps, the center has been looking a bit sad. Hopefully Ollie’s presence will help the center. If nothing else, I never expected another discount store to open up in that Target space after Target moved in 2006.

    Ollie’s certainly isn’t afraid of competition as there is a Big Lots across the street in the old ex-Kmart shopping center. The Big Lots is in an old Kroger that became Pic-N-Save, then MacFrugal’s, and then Big Lots. If anything, clustering the discount stores in one area like that might be helpful as bargain hunters can focus their attention on one area and stop at all the stores there. I know Big Lots really isn’t much of a closeouts store anymore so that leaves room for someone like Ollie’s.

    Oh, that’s great that the Clute Ollie’s has old Kmart carts! I wonder which Kmart those came from. I’m guessing it had to be one of the last handful of Texas Kmarts. Hopefully the Jones Rd. Ollie’s will have Kmart carts as well!

    1. I found your comment here to be very interesting. I moved into this area about 11 years ago right as Target was moving down to 1960 and Eldridge and always wondered about what existed in the three large shopping centers at Jones and 1960 in their past life. I just learned the other day the It’s Ribs that’s right there used to be a Whataburger, actually.

      1. The Jones Rd. & FM 1960 W area is an area I can talk extensively about since I’ve been in this area for a long time! The SE corner of that intersection was initially anchored by Kmart, Kroger, Weiner’s clothing store, and Firestone. The Firestone is still there. Kroger became Pic-N-Save/MacFrugal’s/Big Lots as mentioned above. Kmart moved to the old Willowbrook area Venture in 1997. Hobby Lobby moved into the old Best Products in the Steeplechase shopping center and then made the move to the old Kmart space when it became available. About 1/3rd of the old Kmart was torn down to make up room for the Walgreens and Hobby Lobby moved into what was left.

        The NE corner was initially anchored by an Eagle supermarket. Eventually, a McDuff opened in that shopping center as well. Smaller anchors were Color Tile, Radio Shack, Pancho’s Mexican Buffet, and Hancock Fabrics. When Eagle closed, it became a King Saver discount grocery store. That didn’t last long and then it became a short-lived Freshville Foods supermarket. After all of that, in the 1990s, the spot became a Crafts, Etc. store. That itself didn’t last long and then eventually it became a 24 Hour Fitness. The McDuff became a Radio Shack Clearance Store and then a Computer City Express store before the Willowbrook area Computer City Superstore opened in the former McDuff there in The Commons. I think it’s now an Aaron’s Rents.

        The little outparcel shopping center on the NE corner shopping center used to be a Diamond Shamrock. The outparcel shopping center on the SE corner used to be a Mobil (and then Shell). The Taco Cabana that was on the NW corner until recently used to have a Gulf gas station on that property.

        Yep, the It’s Ribs used to be a Whataburger and then a Schlotzsky’s Deli.

        As you can see, none of the supermarkets that existed on that intersection lasted very long. The Kroger was probably the longest lived, but even that only lasted less than a decade. That Kroger was very close to the Jones Rd. and Cypress-N Houston Kroger (which originally had a Greenhouse store across the street from where it is now) and that location was bigger and slightly newer so I suppose Kroger decided to consolidate operations in that store. The Weingarten’s/Safeway and the three aforementioned supermarkets in the NE corner were all very short-lived.

        I hope this all helps!

        1. I appreciate the dive into history! The only thing I knew for certain was that the Big Lots was a Kroger because the facade of the building looks exactly like the old Kroger stores. It’s interesting how much that corner has changed over the years, then. I always thought it was a good intersection for a gas station since the heavy amount of traffic it gets and wondered why there wasn’t one, but surprised to find out it used to have 3! And that Taco Cabana closing was a big of a shock, it always seemed busy to me. If you have any history of the shopping center at Jones @ 290, I’d be interested in that as well. I know the Harbor Freight used to be a Cineplex/Cinemark Northwest Village 6 theatre, and the Whataburger (at least before it was torn down and rebuilt) was a Del Taco, and pretty sure the Chinese buffet used to be an Eckerd drugs, but the rest of the center is a mystery to my memory.


          1. Yep, there was plenty of gas station competition at Jones Rd. and FM 1960 W at one time, but not now. I was also a bit surprised to learn that the Taco Cabana closed, but given Mike’s post about Taco Cabana’s struggles that he published a few weeks ago, I suppose it isn’t a huge surprise to see that they closed. The Gulf that used to be on that property used to have a big spinning Gulf sign that was really neat. Those spinning gas station signs were not uncommon prior to the 1990s.

            As for the Jersey Village shopping center at Jones Rd. & 290, I’m quiet familiar with that center as well. The Harbor Freight was, as you mention, a movie theater. I actually don’t recall it being a Cinemark, but rather a General Cinema operating under the ‘Cinema 6’ banner. Maybe it was something else for a while as well. The E-Star Chinese Buffet was indeed an Eckerd. The Spec’s was originally a Randall’s before the Steeplechase location at Jones Rd. & West Rd. (now HEB) replaced it in around 1984. That building sat vacant, or at least under-utilized, for many years, but Spec’s coming in revitalized that space. What was Exclusive Furniture until recently, and I believe it’s becoming a Ross Dress For Less, started out as a Handy Dan hardware store. The South Texas Retail blogger, a friend of the HHR blog, has a entry on his blog coming up soon about Handy Dan so you may want to keep an eye on his blog for that. Handy Dan had a major presence in this area at one time.

            Your history about Whataburger there is correct. I think the Los Cucos might have been a Monterey’s Little Mexico. The neighboring shopping center had a Church’s Chicken in what is now a Hartz Chicken Buffet (though there was some independent burger place in there in between the chicken places). The Brewingz across Jones Rd. from the big shopping center was initially a Burger King. That is a pretty poor location because it’s very difficult, or impossible, to make a left turn in and out of there so that Burger King was doomed to fail. It became seafood places afterward and I actually didn’t even know it was a Brewingz until recently. That big shopping center also had a Tuesday Morning in one of the quieter spots of the shopping center in the 1980s.