Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail! Today we’re checking out an old Eckerd that is now hosting a tiny Walgreens along with a few other tenants. The history of 12620 FM 1960 is a bit odd. The corner originally hosted John Eagle Honda, opting to move closer to the highway, leaving this corner for redevelopment. Despite hosting two drug stores, the building has spent most of its life vacant. As an Eckerd drug store, the location was only open for a few weeks. The store’s grand opening took place in early 2004 and would quickly be overshadowed by the purchase of half of the company’s stores by CVS, including those in Texas. Almost immediately, CVS announced their plans to close at least 200 locations in proximity to CVS stores. Just down 1960, and Fallbrook, one of Houston’s older CVS locations, had opened two years prior. This proximity caused CVS to axe the Eckerd location, closing by August 2004. The building would sit vacant for over a year until Washington-Based gym Sound Fitness moved into the space in mid-2006. The gym, however, would shut down in 2013, leaving the building empty until 2020. After undergoing renovations, the building was subdivided into four spaces, with three occupied.
The most interesting tenant by far is Walgreens. Originally located diagonally across the intersection, in their own full-sized store, this new Walgreens represents a push for smaller stores. Some of their new smallest locations feature only a pharmacy counter and some essential OTC medicines. This location has a bit more than those micro-stores, but I wouldn’t find myself stopping here unless I had a prescription to pick up. The Walgreens was able to reutilize the Eckerd drive-thru for its purposes but is less than 1/4 of a typical store. Their old store has also been repurposed as a WSS Shoe Store. The other tenants include Vision Concept, an eyeglasses store, Charley’s Cheesesteaks, and a vacant space. While I didn’t check out Vision Concept, I did try to visit Charley’s. The store is way too small and was quite busy. They were unable to keep up with orders or provide enough seating.
The old hallmarks of this being an Eckerd are almost unrecognizable. Walgreens is showing here that they don’t need as much space as their normal stores do, and that even half of a building once occupied by their former competitor will even suffice! I call this the Burlington effect, because Burlington has been downsizing their stores quite a bit like this.
The Burlington effect is an apt name. We’re starting to see the very beginning of that phenomenon take hold in Houston now. I wonder what they’ll do with the old JCP space at Almeda Mall.
The CVS/Pharmacy former Eckerd Drugs freestanding location located at 13757 Cypress North Houston Road at the corner of Huffmeister Road just permanently closed January 18, 2023 after 43 years of an Eckerd Drugs/ CVS/Pharmacy in continual operation at that intersection. Prior to the freestanding location, the Eckerd Drugs was located at 13815 Cypress North Houston Road in the former Safeway, now Food Town 203, shopping center.
Oh, wow, that is news to me! Thanks for the information. It’s not pleasing news either, but of course, there is another CVS at Cypress N Houston and Jones. I didn’t shop at that CVS all that often. Really, I don’t shop at CVS all that often in general, but the combination of carpeting and neon made that a nicer than average location. Oh well.
I shopped at the old Eckerd in the Safeway/AppleTree/Gerland’s/Food Town shopping center very often though. That was certainly the community’s choice of drug stores, but Walgreens helped their cause by replacing the their old Huffmeister store in the old Gerland’s/Simple Saver shopping center with the freestanding one at Cypress N Houston and Huffmeister. I do miss that old, original Eckerd. CVS is a poor replacement.
I certainly remember when John Eagle Honda was at this spot. For a number of years until around 2000, it was really the only major retail development at the FM 1960 W & N. Eldridge intersection. I know that seems hard to believe now. Retail at that intersection really took off quickly in the late 1990s-mid 2000s. I remember when John Eagle Honda moved to the 290 dealership corridor and Eckerd was coming in here and they were also replacing their Cypress N Houston & Huffmeister location with a similar freestanding building. It was a bit of a different model than their 1990s freestanding stores.
I really thought that the N. Eldridge location never actually opened after the CVS buyout, but there is some evidence that it did open. If it was open, it was open for literally a handful of weeks. It was the strangest thing to see a new store just close like that. The Sound Fitness was popular, or so it seemed, but it didn’t last.
There’s a Krogertsons, Wal-Mart Supercenter, and Target at this intersection so I don’t know if there was really much demand for a full Walgreens here. I did shop at that Walgreens a few times, but there are many in this area so that usually wasn’t the first choice. With the current pharmacy-only Walgreens, well, there really isn’t much reason to go in there. That said, with the Village Medical pilot at some other locations, it does seem Walgreens wants to focus on the health side of the operation and maybe this pharmacy-only (or mostly) location does help achieve that. It’s not like the full Walgreens over on part of the old FM 1960 & Jones Kmart property is all that far away.