Retail News: Foodarama sells another former Safeway, and Village Medical comes closer to achieving goal

Foodarama Sells Another Former Safeway

According to the Houston Chronicle, property developer Baker Katz has acquired the former Safeway at 1805 Ella Boulevard, which is currently occupied by Cox’s Foodarama. The building was originally constructed as two separate structures, with Safeway forming the right side, and Eckerd forming the left. (Shout out to Anonymous in Houston for figuring that one out!) As such, the two properties were under separate ownership and have remained as such even when Safeway expanded their store into the former Eckerd. Baker Katz acquired the Eckerd portion of the property in 2016, and in May of 2021 complete the deal for the rest of the land. Foodarama’s lease is set to expire in late 2021 and with redevelopment plans either not ready or not public, this means Foodarama may have a chance to renew their lease for a little at least.

Expect an upcoming blog post on my visit to this store.

Earlier this year the decision to close a Foodarama which was also operating out of an old Safeway was made. While it seems that a renovation was in the process the sales tax permit for the building was canceled shortly after the February Freeze and while taking photos for the demolition report, I could confirm there was a great deal of water rushing out into the sewer cut that had been made. Both of these buildings were constructed in 1970 and ’71 making them 50 years old, and while are not necessarily in poor shape are they are dated. This can be said about many of the Safeway buildings still operating as grocery stores. Quinquagenarian supermarkets are not out of the norm among in Houston, however their numbers are quickly shrinking. As of June 2021, Foodarama operates 8 supermarkets, mostly in Southwest Houston.

 

Village Medical Comes Closer to Achieving Goal

In November 2019 Walgreen’s began a trial run of in-store clinics operated by VillageMD at five Houston locations. These clinics were different from services previously offered by Walgreens, instead they featured primary care services normally given at a doctor’s office. In February 2021 VillageMD set a goal of opening 48 locations in the Houston area. In March of this year when I dived into some of the prototype locations around town, VillageMD had already made it to 27 locations. A June 1st Announcement of 12 new stores will bring the company even closer to their goal. Driving past some new locations, they all appear to be Second Gen “cheaper” stores, with less of an interior remodel. This should allow multiple locations to open quickly, driving past two of the stores earlier this week they were both undergoing renovations to add the new facilities.

One of the locations I visited earlier this year. (Look at that I’ve been doing continuous blogging log enough to have reference photos!)

4 comments

  1. Hopefully this Foodarama can hang in there as it’s one of only two Foodaramas in the northern half of the metro area. Granted, Randall’s doesn’t have anymore locations in the northern half than Foodarama does! Anyway, maybe this store might do better business than it did before the nearby HEB moved away from their Pantry Foods location. I don’t know.

    As for the other north Houston Foodarama in the Inwood area, which is in an old Randall’s that still looks quite a bit like a Randall’s inside and out, I notice that it does not have as good of a Google user rating as the nearby Food Town even though the Food Town is not as nice looking of a store. I wonder if Food Town might have a bit of a smoother operation than Foodarama and perhaps that might explain Foodarama’s vanishing store count in recent times. Granted, Food Town has closed a few locations themselves so things aren’t completely perfect for them either, unfortunately.

  2. Houston’s independent grocers have been staring down the collision course of aging stores, limited capital, and expensive real estate for a while now and I’m sure we’ll see more of this kind of thing happen. I don’t envy the folks at places like Sellers Bros. and Foodarama as they navigate these situations, but I am rooting for them.

    1. you should be aware that the original Sellers family sold their chain of supermarkets to La Michoacana 18 months ago. So Sellers Bros. Inc. is now part of a larger regional chain and no longer an independently owned family operation.

      1. I was told that awhile back, that is encouraging news for the chain’s survival. I still don’t envy the folks running the chain, though.

        Ideally, the new ownership would make Seller’s more than a slightly taller David to the Houston market’s Goliaths, but I’m skeptical. Fiesta, for example, has been sold three times to larger interests since its founding families left the business 17 years ago, none have been able to keep the chain from shrinking in a Houston market that has added an enormous number of stores in the years since.

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