Walgreens as a Family Dollar, now that’s more like it!

Howdy folks and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail. A little while back we took a look at a Walgreens that’s now stunting as a Dollar Tree. Based on your reactions, and overall view counts, we didn’t like it. So this week we’re instead trying out another former Walgreens. This time under the other side of the “Dollar Family Tree”. This Missouri City Walgreens originally opened in 2004 at 3403 Texas Pkwy, Missouri City, TX 77489. A nice-looking freestanding location it was not actually brand new, but instead, a replacement for a shopping center-based location after Randall’s left Missouri City a few years earlier. Although the resulting Randallsarama was (and is still) quite nice, Walgreens instead meant to capitalize on a trend of becoming a retailer of convenience. This new store would be the closest grocery and GM option for most residents of the various Quail subdivisions, so they would obviously be willing to put up with the higher than discount prices right? Well, sort of… like many other neighborhood-based Walgreens of the early 2000s, this location faced an issue and it wasn’t exceptionally low traffic. Rather, this store was cannibalizing business from an existing Walgreens just about a mile up the road.

Beyond the overpopulation of Walgreens in Houston though, this seemed to be an otherwise okay drug store. It would make it to 2018 before closing along with a bevy of other stores, some that we’ve already seen. While overall the culling of overbuilt pharmacies in Houston has been positive, this is a case where that point is a bit more arguable. This portion of Missouri City started out with multiple large chain retailers, that almost immediately retreated as soon as possible. With Food Lion diverting to Fiesta, the aforementioned Randallsarama, along with Safeway and Wal-Mart/Bud’s leaving their buildings vacant. This really made that vision of being the convenience retailer possible for Walgreens in this area. Especially with the lack of public transit in Fort Bend County, and a lacking sidewalk system, if you find yourself without access to a car, you’re limited to how far you can get. Family Dollar seems to have capitalized on this idea, which may be the one redeeming factor in the situation. That Family Dollar is doing a better job of fulfilling Walgreen’s goal than they could. It also doesn’t hurt that their prices are lower, and their selection is much wider than a typical Walgreens (although if you’ve never been to one outside of Houston you’d be surprised to know we have larger than average stores).

Overall I feel this is an example of a conversion done very well, and a situation where the best possible outcome was achieved for the neighborhood. Part of this falls on a failure of Walgreens which has publically lamented its oversized locations and more recently has been opening smaller replacement stores. Even if Walgreens had tried to stick it out, they are so close to a CVS, and the other Missouri City Walgreens, that it doesn’t make much sense to keep both locations. As a pharmacy, Walgreens does fine, but as a store, they’re somewhat ailing. Higher prices in the Missouri City area are usually a non-starter in cases of convenience. While Family Dollar isn’t the cheapest or nicest possible outcome for this store, but it serves the community well, and in the end, that’s what’s important. If you’re in Fort Bend County and happen upon this area, I’d say it’s worth stopping to check out. Nothing you wouldn’t expect, but a fun look at a “what if” scenario.

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