Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail! Today we’re taking a look at a grocer never before featured on HHR, Sprouts Farmers Market. For those not in the know, Sprouts is a natural grocer, a little bit different from Whole Foods. First entering Texas in 2005, Sprout’s stores are smaller than the competition and have almost no focus on non-grocery selection, with exception of a small assortment of HBA products. This “laser focus” Sprouts uses brings in what I would argue is a bit more diverse crowd than Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. While you won’t find 12 packs of Coke or Lay’s potato chips, you will see Mrs. Baird’s bread and Boar’s Head deli meats. Sprouts has been expanding its Houston presence over the past 10 years, thanks in part to a 2011 acquisition by an investment firm, along with two other chains operating health food/natural grocery stores in Texas. With these takeovers, and new financing backing them, Sprouts has quickly grown to about 50 Texas locations as of this year. This number may come as a surprise for Houstonians, with our area only having about nine locations. This Sprouts, located at 1212 Old Spanish Trail, Houston, TX 77054, opened in October 2020 in the former Toys ‘R Us. The building is now subdivided. However, a second tenant has yet to occupy the remaining space.
Sprouts entry in the Houston market happened only ten years ago. While less than a location a year may not seem monumental, it’s actually a pretty big feat, especially when you consider that The Fresh Market, a grocer with a similar concept, also entered Houston in 2013, taking over multiple Rice Epicurean locations. The Fresh Market, however, wouldn’t be able to stick it out in our competitive market, leaving Texas entirely in 2016. Time has not particularly been kind to other natural grocers either, with Trader Joe’s entering Houston in 2012 with three stores and only being able to add another two in the 11 years since. On the other hand, Texas-grown Whole Foods is not too far ahead of Sprouts at this point, with about 14 locations in the Houston area, with their newest store opening in Midtown in 2019. It seems that for now, Sprouts is doing relatively well in the Houston area. In addition to higher-end organic fare, the company is helped by selling non-organic options as well, at relatively low prices. However, with a more significant focus being given to the DFW area, we’ll have to wait and see exactly how the future of Sprouts plays out in Houston.