Braeswood Square, located at 5300 N Braeswood Blvd, Houston, TX 77096, might seem like a fairly ordinary 1970s shopping center, but there is one historical aspect of the shopping center which makes the center somewhat unique compared to most other shopping centers. Braeswood Square was developed by Weingarten Markets Realty Company. Weingarten developed the shopping center in a partnership with Harold Farb, the developer who built the large apartment complexes surrounding the shopping center. Those familiar with Weingarten’s shopping centers from this era know they often featured a mall-like enclosed ‘air-conditioned sidewalk’ corridor to allow shoppers to walk between the stores at the shopping center in climate-controlled comfort. While this might seem hard to believe by those who have shopped at Braeswood Square in more modern times, Braeswood Square was indeed built with an air-conditioned sidewalk. Thus, like with the nearby Maplewood Mall, Weingarten could claim that Braeswood Square was a mall!
As one would also expect from a Weingarten Markets Realty Company development from this period, Braeswood Square was initially anchored by a J. Weingarten supermarket and a Walgreens drug store. Both of these anchors opened a few weeks before the official July 8th grand opening of the shopping center. Fittingly, both Weingarten’s and Walgreens had very similar logos at the time! The Walgreens still remains in business at Braeswood Square 51 years later as of the writing of this blog post in 2022. The longevity of the Walgreens can surely be attributed to the Walgreens being at the end of the shopping center. This allowed Walgreens to add the convenience of a drive-thru pharmacy like their 1990s-2000s era freestanding stores have here in modern times. The Weingarten’s supermarket briefly became a Safeway in the mid-1980s when Weingarten’s ended grocery operations and then became a Belden’s supermarket from 1987 to 2020 when Belden’s ceased operations. As mentioned earlier, this anchor spot will continue to serve as a supermarket, albeit in a bit of a different format, when Gordon Food Service opens one of their GFS Stores in the anchor spot.
Other businesses at Braeswood Square which celebrated the grand opening in 1971 were Allied Radio Shack (Tandy used the Allied Radio Shack name for Radio Shack stores for a while following their purchase of Allied Electronics in 1970), the Bookland bookstore, Gazebo Gift Shop, Solomon Fabrics, Playmart Discount Toys, a children’s clothing store named Young Years, La Feminique Wig Salon, John’s Party Shop, Easy Rider pants and accessories store, Le Stitcherie needlework shop, Boutique Four fashions, and Elegance Beauty Salon.
By 1972, several other well-known retail names were starting to fill in the Braeswood Square shopping center along with other smaller retailers. The January 19, 1972 issue of The Bellaire Texan contains advertisements for a sidewalk bazaar sale at Braeswood Square and includes ads for Al’s Formal Wear, Charles Ford fashions, Tape City U.S.A. music store, French Bootery, Stop N Go Markets, Pilgrim cleaners, and Zales jewelers. The ad also mentions that Jim’s Coffee Shop, the Green Parrot Restaurant, and Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream were soon to come at Braeswood Square in 1972.
Of course, these 1971 and 1972 editions on The Bellaire Texan did not just contain ads for Braeswood Square. Several other retailers doing business in Southwest Houston at the time placed ads in the newspaper and many of them are rather interesting. Most of the companies in these ads were small, local businesses which are no longer around.
We hope that you enjoyed this look back at the history of the Braeswood Square shopping center. If you have any memories of the early days of Braeswood Square, or any memories or thoughts about the other retailers in the post, feel free to post them in the comments section below. We love to hear from our readers!