Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail! Today we’re taking a look at a Krogerstons Express! For those unaware, a Krogerstons, is a Kroger in a former Albertsons, which we have plenty of in the Houston area. While Albertsons did re-enter some former store spaces when purchasing Safeway (including Randall’s), they stand to reenter a large number of former stores depending on the outcome of their planned merger. When Albertsons exited Houston in 2002, they left behind plenty of modern and up-to-date stores. Their issue was not necessarily low sales but rather over-expansion. With the odds stacked against them from the start, Albertson’s fight in Houston was based on bringing in as many shoppers as they could. Their time in Houston left many unique retail remnants, including a giant distribution center and stores with conveniences many other grocers were just beginning to implement. While many of the conveniences were inside of the stores, such as walk-in beer coolers and Starbucks locations, arguably the most noticeable convenience was Albertsons Express Stores. While the stores themselves were not terribly uncommon, what one of their new owners did to them was.
When other grocers acquired Albertson’s share of the city in early 2002, Kroger purchased the lion’s share of locations. Most Albertsons locations included gas pumps, but not every location had a C-Store. Different chains would utilize different methods, such as H-E-B, demolishing their C-Stores but leaving the canopy and pumps operational. Or Food Town, who sold an entire gas station to a third party. Kroger, on the other hand, would embrace these new C-Stores. The locations would initially be branded as Kwik Shop stores, first using the pre-Kroger Kwik Shop logo. Later switching to the post-merger Kwik Shop signage. While these stores would sport the Kwik Shop logo, as far as I can tell, they were never officially under the control of Kwik Shop. When Kroger divested its C-Store portfolio, the former Albertsons Express locations were all spared. Since the split, the stores have debranded simply down to “Kroger.” While the future of the Kroger-Albertsons merger looks a bit hazy at the moment, it’s safe to say that a good number of these ex-Albertsons Express locations will likely continue to operate. While we have lost a few locations with store relocations and roadway expansions, Krogerstons Express is here for now!