Houston’s oldest TJ Maxx is in a former Weingartens

Rummel Creek Village is a very interesting shopping center. With wooden shingles, ample trees, and vintage facade, you almost feel closer to the Hill Country than Houston here. Despite fitting stylistically with the surrounding Memorial Villages area, Rummel Creek Village is actually entirely within Houston. It’s anyone’s guess as to how it has survived unchanged for so long, but thankfully with age the design has only gained charm. It almost looks like something that would have never been built in Houston, due to our tendency to stick with very drab and plain and largely stucco shopping centers. This is at the behest of REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) the companies which own and manage these properties. Essentially the more minimalistic a design used, the higher the profit, which is the name of the game with REITs. Unfortunately Houston based Weingarten Realty was horribly guilty of this practice, electing to “modernize” most shopping centers by slapping a coat of stucco along the front, and removing or covering up any sloping rooflines. Thankfully, though, at least a few examples of their classic eccentric designs exist to be seen. Rummel Creek Center, was built around a 1960s Weingarten Grocery store, which we’re taking a look at today.

Located at 13188 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77079 this store opened as a Weingarten’s in February 1969. As built, store number #91 was freestanding in anticipation of the rest of the shopping center, which would be constructed over the next few years. While already known for having excellent amenities, this Weingarten’s had some stand out departments, including prepared foods, and an expanded garden center. While it’s difficult to gauge where this store fell in terms of business, it seemed to be a fairly popular location, often being included in promotional events. In 1983 Grand Union, who had acquired Weingarten three years prior, quietly put the chain up for sale right before the end of the year. Within only a few months time, most of the chain was divided up and sold to many other grocers, with Safeway taking the largest single share. However, some stores were closed without buyers, and were put up for lease. Oddly, no grocer would pick up the location, Safeway likely avoided it due to their own issues at Memorial and Dairy Ashford. As well, the nearby Randall’s Flagship in a former Handy Andy set the bar relatively high for any independents interested in the area. However, the store would not sit vacant for long, as Zayre lined up Texas as the next state to expand their TJ Maxx concept. It’s possible, that an existing relationship which Weingarten Realty had with Zayre from managing properties in Northern states helped them line TJ Maxx up for their own former grocery store. Regardless of how it happened, TJ Maxx opened at least two locations, in former Weingartens in 1984.

5 comments

  1. I used to work here in 1983, when those old trees were young. Yes, those are the original windows! The entrance was updated after the supermarket closed, not before. The breezeway was closed to the exterior and completely open to the interior. I think you’re correct about the location of the service desk. The remainder of the area that is now the breezeway had bulky items (bottled water, rug cleaners). The portico roof on the right (where Eckerd’s used to be) is a church add-on for rainy days, and not original to the building.

    After Hurricane Alicia (Sept. 1983), the power was out for a couple of weeks. The financial hit from food spoilage at this store, and possibly others, may have prompted the divestment by Grand Union.

    1. This is great info! I wasn’t around for Weingartens, so all I have to go off are old photos, and memories of those who were. The food spoilage likely would have turned off potential tenants. I can also understand why Safeway didn’t grab it after shutting down their own store on Memorial, and having another one South of the Bayou on Wilcrest. Kroger and Randall also had nearby locations. However, this was still a big time for independents in Houston and the fact that this store wasn’t scooped up immediately, and later redeveloped leads me to believe that there was something off with the location.

  2. Me and my mom have always called it the “Hidden TJ Maxx” because it’s not near any other major streets.

  3. The Rummel Creek shopping center has often caught my eye when driving past it. Although I don’t think I said anything about it, it did cross my mind that the center would be a good subject for a blog post! I’m glad you were about to post about it and billytheskink’s comment about the ownership of the center is certainly news to me. Oddly enough, when I do drive past this center, it’s usually because I’m stopping at the Dairy Ashford Handy Andy Randall’s or the even closer Town & Country Randall’s!

    The arched windows of this Weingarten’s-TJMaxx reminds me a lot of the Weingarten’s-TJMaxx that was in the Steeplechase shopping center at Jones Road & FM 1960 W. This is the Ollie’s shopping center. The old Weingarten’s space is now dd’s Discounts, but prior to that it was a Goodwill, TJMaxx, Safeway, and Grand Union Weingarten’s. There was a long period where it was empty after Safeway closed up, but Safeway left some zombie signage at that location which was always interesting to see. Anyway, Weingarten’s famed arched windows survived through Goodwill’s occupancy, but then Goodwill moved into another spot in the same center and the windows were sadly removed when dd’s moved in. Here’s what the Steeplechase Weingarten’s looked like when it was new (though I’m not sure if this is actually the Steeplechase location or another similar one): https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fs.hdnux.com%2Fphotos%2F71%2F62%2F16%2F15147944%2F3%2F1200x0.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

  4. A big reason this shopping center hasn’t seen the kinds of renovations and “modernizations” that have befallen a lot of the Houston area’s older strip centers is that Memorial Drive United Methodist Church owns it, and doesn’t do so simply as an investment (though, obviously, they do have a few commercial users leasing space). MDUMC bought the facility so that they could use the center for additional class and activity space that they did not have room for on their property across Memorial, and to shuttle worshippers from its parking lot to the sanctuary on Sunday mornings.

    It really is a lovely shopping center, though I have to say I have expressed irritation many a time having gotten caught behind a TJ Maxx shopper traveling eastbound on Memorial… there still is no turn lane in the middle of the road.

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