Lake Jackson just can’t keep a dang grocery store!

My heart always drops a little bit when I hear about a former Safeway shutting down for good. It’s amazing that stores built in the 1970s are still operating as grocery stores, that’s the equivalence of someone in the 2000s shopping at a store that opened in 1950, not impossible but largely unheard as by that point the supermarkets that had been built would be outsized in only a few years. The Lake Jackson Safeway has a somewhat complicated history, or multiple operators having either short bursts of success or measurable failures. Some of this may have to do with how Lake Jackson was originally designed versus how the community actually grew out. However, in this situation, I just can’t my finger on why exactly stores keep failing in this spot. So let’s start with some history. Safeway opened this location in 1976 and held onto it until the AppleTree buyout occurred. The store did well under both companies, serving somewhat of a more upscale shopping center in Lake Jackson, and dealing with very little competition. However, in 1994 when the remainder of AppleTree was dissolved the store was first sold so Stanley Supermarkets. Stanley already had a store close by and simply relocated and expanded here. While I don’t have much information on Stanley Stores, I do know this wasn’t the only Safeway they bought, but it was the only AppleTree. They seem to have kept it in good running shape, even operating a 3rd party pharmacy in space left by AppleTree/Safeway. Unfortunately, Stanley Stores would hit an abrupt end in 1997 after declaring bankruptcy. The store would then be purchased by Baywood Foods a small chain that would only operate the location for 2 years before selling it to Jerry Dorman, who operated the store as Jerry’s Food King from 1999-20016, after deciding to retire in 2016 Dorman sold his store to Arlan’s who would operate out of this location from 2016-2019.

While Arlan’s didn’t give a reason behind closing this store, the decision was made prior to the pandemic, so it’s a safe guess to say sales were likely lagging at this location. If you check out the Google Reviews for this store, in addition to a treasure trove of photos, you’ll find some really great reviews. It seems that the people of Lake Jackson were happy with Arlan’s so what could have caused it to close? Well, my guess would be it was the same thing that probably got Jerry Dorman to retire, the new H-E-B opening up a block down the street. While this probably wasn’t the only nail in the coffin with a new Aldi opening up, and Kroger moving to a Marketplace store, Lake Jackson’s grocery scene has changed dramatically in the past 5 years, looking much more like Houston’s than the separate entity it was for so long.

2 comments

  1. Always hate to see a player like Arlan’s get squeezed out, they have done a solid job keeping true grocery stores in underserved and small town communities in the Houston region… sort of a Texas Gulf Coast Brookshire Brothers. Arlan’s does still have a store down in Freeport, the only true grocery store in that town. One retail remnant that does remain in this old shopping center in Lake Jackson is the Houston area’s only operating Beef ‘O’ Brady’s restaurant.

    I believe Stanley Stores owned the Bill’s Price-Lo that operated for many years in the 5100 block of Ave. H in Rosenberg.

  2. While the Arlan’s might have suffered an unfortunate demise, it seems the payphone in front of the building lives on! At least there is that!

    I took a look at the photos of the Arlan’s on Google Maps and it looked like a pretty nice supermarket. It’s a shame it didn’t last, but Arlan’s and Food King were up against some very stiff competition with this location. In addition to the new HEB, there is a Walmart Supercenter very close by and a relatively new Kroger Marketplace not too far off as well. It was going to be very difficult for a grocer like Arlan’s to withstand that kind of competition. The one advantage Arlan’s had is that their store was much smaller (though not small) compared to the big chain stores nearby, but ultimately I suppose that advantage wasn’t enough to keep enough customers coming into the store. It’s a shame, I probably would have preferred shopping at the Arlan’s to the competition if I lived in that area.

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