Retail News: North Oaks Mall loses Half Price Books, but we gain Gordon Food Service stores in Houston

Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail. Today we have a brief news check-in!

North Oaks Mall loses Half Price books, but re-signs Big Lots

North Oaks Mall was recently put up for auction by the property owners. The former mall, now a shopping center, once housed interior corridors, and a larger number of shops. These days however, the tenant list is dwindling as more and more make their exit from North Oaks. With the impending sale of the shopping center, Half Price Books opted not to renew their lease, citing rising rent prices as their determining factor. With a note on the door identical to the Rice Village and Montrose locations, this location also tops the list as one of the oldest in Houston.

Despite HPB’s exit, North Oaks was able to resign its long tenant, Big Lots, who is one of the few occupants dating back to mall days (as Pic ‘n Save) and one of the last stores with a mall entrance. Another long term lessee out due to the deal is TJ Maxx, who is being replaced by a yet unnamed Auto Retailer with a “Max Concept”. The final mall only tenant, was a Dollar Theater which shutdown just at the start of the pandemic only to never reopen. While a replacement for the space has yet to be officially announced, it seems that Gordon Food Service may be prepping to open their first Texas location in the center.

Gordon Food Service enters Houston with bulk food stores

Gordon Food Service, is a wholesale supply company that entered Texas in 2014 with their purchase of the Glazier Foods. To the average consumer, little has changed Glazier’s main business was fulfilling canteen-style orders, like school cafeterias, or county offices. While Glazier did have some retail and restaurant consumers, GFS products have yet to experience any widespread roll out in Texas. This all is about to change however, with the debut of multiple new Gordon Food Service Stores. These stores offer both name brands and GFS products, in bulk sizes with low prices.

A typical freestanding GFS Store Photo: Dwight Burdette

A GFS Store is usually around 30,000-,40,000 Square Feet, and are normally free standing structures, nearby other large retailers. The Houston stores however are a bit different. The locations are small averaging closer to only 20k Sqft, and are all being built out in existing stores. In addition to the North Oaks Mall location, 4 other stores are planned around the Houston area.

While GFS does offer fresh and packaged grocery, the are far from a “standard supermarket”. Don’t expect to find any service departments at these Gordon stores, or anything too far from the realm of food service. While you can find some cleaning and laundry supplies, these are not consumer-focused and generally not as widely stocked compared to food. GFS has yet to announce opening dates for any locations as of yet, but we can likely expect these stores sometime toward the end of 2022 or start of 2023.

2 comments

  1. One thing about North Oaks Mall is that the center was just sold at auction last week. We’ll have to see what the new owners have planned for the place. The center has lost a lot of tenants in recent years, but it does look like the new owners will be getting some new tenants in as well and certainly having a grocery anchor again could drive a lot of traffic to the center. It’s to be seen if Gordon Food Service stores are capable of driving decent traffic in Houston, but it’ll be interesting to have a new grocer in town and they have picked some interesting locations to start out at here.

    It’s very sad to see another Houston Half Price Books location close. This one, along with the Humble location, are the largest HPBs in town that I know of so it’s a shame to see it go. It was one of two local HPBs to me. I’ve spent a lot of time and money at the North Oaks HPB. I wasn’t really expecting it to close as it usually did brisk business at least before the pandemic, but perhaps HPB lost faith in the shopping center. Then again, it looks like HPB isn’t too willing to deal with rent increases at any of their locations. This isn’t the first time HPB left FM 1960 W before so hopefully they’ll resurface at some point.

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