Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail. This week, we’re looking at what could rightfully be considered Houston’s newest Supermarket Chain. Harvest Market stores feature everything you’d find in a standard Supermarket, Perishables, Pantry Foods, Service Departments, and even a pharmacy at some stores. However, they’d prefer it if you called them a “Grocerant” instead. No, a Grocer-rant isn’t a long-winded complaint about customers. Instead, it’s a grocery store that also serves as a restaurant. Harvest Market didn’t necessarily introduce the concept to Houston. That would likely go to HEB’s Chicken Restaurant Concept or maybe even Kroger’s partnership with Taco Bell and Pizza Hut Express. Instead, Harvest Market brought the latest generation of the Grocerant concept to town or the suburbs. The difference between Harvest Market and grocerants of about 10-20 years ago is pretty stark. Harvest Market utilizes a food court-type setup that allows for multiple quick-service food counters next to a small dining area. As for the grocery store, a typical Harvest Market is much smaller than its competition. Even still, this small chain has carved out somewhat of a niche in its market. The stores stock a mix of groceries similar to pretty much any other major player in Houston. Their brand selection is a bit limited due to floor space, but Harvest Market has made up for it via International Foods, and this is where one of the major issues for Harvest Market lies. Fighting against major players, the chain has done little to make a name for itself. Their Grocerant concept has proven to be popular, but not enough to set them apart for lower-priced competitors. At today’s location, Harvest Market has come to the realization that their grocery game is not as much of a success as they would have hoped. This location is pivoting to become Harvest International, a small format store selling mainly international foods.
As a whole, Harvest Market is an interesting concept. Their incarnation of this idea is only about five years old, and the idea of putting a food court in a grocery store is not a bad one. However, it largely seems like Houstonians prefer low prices to extravagant living. With the staff at the store citing the increasing amount of external pressure from HEB and Walmart, this new store will be stripped down to a bare minimum. A small selection of international foods, and healthy living selections, seemingly complement the pharmacy, which seems like it will remain. In addition to this location, Harvest Market also operates locations in Katy, Sienna Plantation, and Woodforest. At the moment, these locations are still branded as full like grocery stores, and while the Katy location features reviews calling it an international store, the other two locations still serve as traditional Grocerants. Both of these stores are likely to be around in their current incarnation for at least a bit, as they’re quite deep in suburbia and not in immediate competition with any other grocers. However, it does seem that things at Harvest Market may still be a bit unstable, as noted by their “Harvest Trolley” mobile grocery store service seeing interruptions, along with missing merchandise at the other stores. If you find yourself near a location, I’d highly recommend you stop in and check out your local store. It’s not too often we get a true upstart independent, and while the chain doesn’t seem to be disappearing for our eyes, our market can be quite turbulent.