Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a guest submission from HHR’s good friend Anonymous in Houston with the photos taken by Mike
Happy New Year and welcome to 2023, Houston Historic Retail readers! We have many interesting things planned for this year. One of our goals for the year is to cover some of the most interesting Kroger stores in the Houston area. With that in mind, we plan on posting one Kroger post a month in 2023 in order show Kroger’s significant influence in Houston’s retail history.
Today’s Year of Kroger post takes us to a surviving Houston Greenhouse Kroger store located at 13133 Veterans Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77014. Believe it or not, this is the first operational Greenhouse Kroger covered here at HHR! While all remaining Greenhouse stores are pretty special, this particular location has some rather unique aspects to it which truly makes it worthy of inspection. Like many current Houston Kroger stores, this Kroger replaced an older Kroger location, Kroger HP-106, which opened in 1972 at 4510 FM 1960 W., Houston, TX 77090 and closed in 1981 when the subject of this post opened. The original location was located in the building where Office Depot is currently located. This Office Depot, Office Depot #17, opened in 1988 and is one earliest stores in the Office Depot chain. This is located across the street from the North Oaks Mall.
The subject of today’s post opened in March 1981 as Kroger HP-275. It should be noted that when Kroger HP-275 originally opened in 1981, Veterans Memorial was still referred to as Stuebner Airline as the part of Stuebner Airline south of FM 1960 W had not yet been renamed to Veterans Memorial. Yes, the HP in those store numbers refers to Henke & Pillot, the origin of Kroger’s Houston Division, but Kroger does not use the HP prefix in modern times for the Houston Division. Like the Kroger that this store replaced on FM 1960 W, it was joined by a SupeRx, a drug store chain owned by Kroger that was similar to a Walgreens, CVS, or Eckerd drug store. It is the presence of the SupeRx which is one reason why this Kroger is so interesting. Kroger closed their Houston-area SupeRx locations by August 1981 so this SupeRx only lasted a handful of months!
Eventually, Kroger elected to make use of the SupeRx space by expanding their supermarket into the old drug store space while adding a traditional Kroger pharmacy to the supermarket. Due to differences between the Kroger and the SupeRx building next door, however, Kroger was not able to make a seamless conversion. Even to this day, a large wall exists somewhat separating the left third of the store from the rest of the store. This is not unlike what was seen at the former Ella Blvd. Foodarama which also had a large wall running through the center part of the store when a former drug store space was joined with an existing grocery space.
The Foodarama aside, it is certainly a bit unusual to shop at a supermarket which has a wall running through the middle of it! That said, the extra space this Kroger has makes it unusually spacious for a Greenhouse Kroger. The produce department and the first few aisles of the store are in the old SupeRx part of the store and this is made obvious by the lower ceiling height in that part of the store.
This store would have had Kroger’s famous Bauhaus décor package when it opened in 1981. Retail Retell, friend of the blog, has an excellent guide to the Bauhaus décor package on his Mid-South Retail Blog. Also, one can see some videos of Bauhaus décor Greenhouse Krogers from the 1980s here. In current times, the store has décor much more unusual by Kroger’s standards, the Colorful Value décor package which is also informally referred to as the Food 4 Less décor package. The Food 4 Less décor package is typically used by Kroger in their Food 4 Less discount supermarkets in the western part of the United States, but it has been used in other select markets at more mainstream Kroger stores. This décor package is typically used at stores with diverse customer demographics. Indeed, the area around Veterans Memorial can indeed be described as being ethnically diverse. In fact, there is a Hong Kong Food Market at the same intersection as this Kroger in an old Food Lion. In addition to the Hong Kong Food Market, this Kroger most closely competes with a Food Town and a Joe V’s Smart Shop, a deep discount format from HEB. Gordon Food Service will be opening a GFS Store at the North Oaks Mall here soon and this store also competes with the Champions Randall’s Flagship store on FM 1960 W.
From the outside, the Veterans Memorial Kroger does look like a 40+ year old supermarket. The Greenhouse is still clearly visible and the parking lot has seen better days, but on the inside, it is still very much a viable supermarket. As mentioned earlier, the extra space this store has allows it to feel spacious. In fact, the staffed floral department at the entrance of the store is one of the largest modern Kroger floral departments that I have seen! The store even has an alcove next to the customer service desk where the store’s crane game and other vending machines are located. The majority of the store has a high drop ceiling which also adds to the spacious feeling. The colorful décor here gives this store a more festive feeling than most current Kroger stores without it having that cheap feeling that some stores have with bright colors. This store still has proper vinyl flooring cover. While it is in slightly rough shape in a few areas, it still looks nicer than Krogers with tile scarred concrete floors such as the Highway 6 & West Rd. Kroger which is also a Greenhouse Kroger, but Kroger removed the Greenhouse exterior from that location some years back.
For those like myself who have shopped at Kroger Greenhouse stores since they were new, the Veterans Memorial Kroger will feel like a familiar place. That said, there are enough unique aspects about this store to make it feel different than the usual Greenhouse Kroger. Houston Kroger shoppers wanting to experience something unique and historic would be wise to make a stop at the Veterans Memorial Kroger!
Do you have any memories of the Veterans Memorial Kroger? Do you have any other thoughts about Greenhouse Krogers or SupeRx locations? If so, or if you have any other thoughts about this Kroger, please feel free to write a comment below. We love to hear from our readers! Also, be sure to continue checking back at Houston Historic Retail for more Year of Kroger posts!