Edit: 5/3 Interested in following the status of the remaining Randall’s in Houston, then consider following Houston Historic Retail on Facebook or subscribe via email for updates!
Welcome back to Houston Historic Retail, for another Retail News brief! This week we have some bad news for Randall’s fans and some good news for bulk shoppers on the West Side.
Randall’s in Sugar Land prepares to close
The headline this week is the announcement that Albertsons plans to shut their Randall’s location at 3346 Hwy 6 S, Sugar Land, TX 77478. The store which opened on November 14, 1982, traces its lineage to a time when Randall’s was still trying to figure out what exactly it was. Only two years after their Handy Andy acquisition, this new location would help to buck the trend of Randall’s being “Discount Supermarkets” in generally blue-collar areas. This part of Sugar Land was just starting to fill out during this time, and Weingarten was developing a new shopping center in conjunction with Target. While the oldest indications seem to suggest a Weingarten’s store was to be built here, by the time work started on the shopping center new owner Grand Union was encountering difficulties with the chain. Instead, Randall’s would open a new type of store here. Using some of the techniques they inherited from Handy Andy, they built a relatively upscale store, and have managed to operate pretty uneventfully for the past 40 years.
However, according to an inside source that reached out to HHR, the remaining days are quickly ticking for this store. (If you ever have a tip you want to share with HHR we can publish it anonymously!) Supposedly the location has not been doing well performance-wise often coming in at the lower end of the division. While the store did have a pandemic upswing in traffic, mostly thanks to the lack of direct competition in the area, it wasn’t enough to keep it from closing. Liquidation has yet to begin, but it will likely start sometime in the next few weeks. When visiting for the cover photo, the store was actually receiving a truck, meaning we likely still have a regular week or two at the least before liquidation begins. With the 40th anniversary of the lease upcoming it’s possible that the landlord or Albertsons may have signed a new tenant for the building. While overall this does not paint a rosy picture for Randall’s they are still investing in their locations, with the location at Weslayan and Bissonnet filing permits to soon begin a minor remodel, which means the remaining stores likely aren’t going anywhere quickly.
Sam’s Club in West Houston prepares to reopen
Based on some recent permits filed by Wal-Mart, it seems like a long-dormant Sam’s Club may soon be reopening in West Houston. Located at 13331 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77077 the building, is actually a second-generation store, which replaced an older location at 1025 Hwy 6, Houston, TX 77079 in 2013. In early 2018, the store unexpectedly closed along with another location at 610 and Fannin and 61 other locations across the U.S. The items and fixtures remaining in the store were auctioned off, and rumors mulled that the Westheimer store would soon become an online fulfillment center, and the South Loop location was quickly sold with plans to be redeveloped. The Westheimer store remained on the market until around 2020 when it was taken off Walmart Realty’s listings. The remodel calls for the reimplementation of the store but does not make mention of the gas station, which was demolished shortly after closing. Some new features include walk-in coolers and a “demonstration room”. Work is currently scheduled for later this summer.
Good close them all
My dad was owner of the produce section back in the day when Bob Onstead ran things. There were only 2 or 3 stores at that time and were definitely the place to shop! Sad they didn’t continue to evolve with the times attract the traffic they once did!
Randall Onstead’s Flagship supermarket stores were quite impressive & “Remarkable” when first rolled out but as years passed on following Mr. Onstead’s leadership, with waning vision & visibility, the stores appeared to lack the renewed interest, investment & the passionate enthusiastic leadership necessary to sustain the image required to justify modest premiums for an upscale supermarket… whereas stale & dated marketing programs also appear to have failed to help keep these once luxurious & beautiful stores competitive.
Perhaps renewed interest, enthusiasm, motivation, innovation, updated marketing & advertising along with web curbside & delivery services, coupled with new self-check out terminals & investments in state-of-the-art technologies might help stave off dying from neglect for what remains of what had once been a strong contender & a solid leader in the marketplace.
Randall’s is definitely getting ready to kick the bucket, and it is going to happen sooner than later. I personally will miss them as I felt the stores had a nice feel and selection of products, even though it was bit pricey I must admit. Safeway/Albertsons really need to continue investing in the stores and keep them up, otherwise they will end up facing the same fate Kmart is about to face. Also, I am shocked to hear that the Sam’s Club on Eldridge is coming back!! I thought the building was just going to sit empty forever. Glad to hear it is coming back, as it is annoying having to go the Sugar Land store all the time (I am in Mission Bend).
I think Randall’s has a slim chance at survival but not if they continue what they’re doing right now. Over the past year, the DFW Tom Thumb/Albertsons division has started working on new stores for the first time basically since the Albertsons buyout. If they can get their ducks in a row up there, Randall’s might be able to hang on just based on the traffic up there, and “specialty locations” like Midtown.
Still loved this store as if you shopped judiciously – and bought elsewhere the more expensive items – it wasn’t that much more expensive (and sure as heck less crowded). Might have helped too if store had ever been even SLIGHTLY upgraded / remodeled as its virtually the same since Bush was president – 41, not 43. So sad. Now site is probably destined to some crap .99 Store or the like (oh, boy!!).
It’s sad to hear about the Sugar Land Randall’s closing, but thanks for the scoop. Seeing Randall’s leave Sugar Land is a bit sad given that I know the Onsteads had ties to the area, but at least the Richmond store just got a remodel so hopefully that locations on solid footing at least. As we know, most Randall’s that are in close proximity to an HEB are probably in deep danger of closing. There are a couple of older, wealthy neighborhoods where Randall’s can perhaps survive simply by not being the zoo that is HEB if nothing else, like the Town & Country location, but it seems Sugar Land is not one of those locations.