Why is Pearland’s newest HEB already getting a remodel?

Howdy, folks, and welcome back to HHR. Today we’re checking out something we haven’t seen in a while, a grocery store expansion. Specifically, the remodel going on at the East Pearland HEB at 2710 Pearland Pkwy, Pearland, TX 77581. Before we answer the question as to why this HEB is getting an expansion, let’s dig into why this has become somewhat unusual. For years, HEB’s focus in Houston was on Pantry Foods stores, which on the whole, don’t have stellar memories attached to them. These cramped and often older buildings allowed HEB to enter a difficult grocery market. As soon as it proved profitable, HEB looked to change its course, opening larger better-stocked locations, known initially as HEB Food & Drug stores. Some Pantry Food stores received updates to Food & Drug stores, and a select few even had expansions added on to existing buildings. In the early 2000s, HEB was not the only store fixated on expansions. Kroger and Randalls worked on expanding their stores through the Signature and Flagship programs, respectively. Most notably, though, Walmart revved up its Supercenter program to try and add grocery stores to as many locations as economics would allow. However, this expansion fever would begin to die down around 2010, with HEB usually adding on only small outbuildings to facilitate the earliest versions of curbside pickup. Again though, these expansion programs would die out, with HEB choosing to rework floor space and remove leased tenants to suit their needs. Since about 2020, no grocery store expansions have been undertaken in Houston, with exceptions being made for grocers reworking their layout to include pickup services during the pandemic.

Retail as an industry is in a flex right now, with an uncertain future that has even led some grocers to try tiny stores. However, HEB’s eyes seem to be on the same prize as nearly 20 years ago, bigger and better stores. The East Pearland HEB opened in 2014 after many years of teasing the idea by the San Antonio grocer. This HEB was the second in the city of Pearland; the first opened in 2007 off 288 in a glitzy new development. This first store was under the HEB Plus! banner, and sold soft lines, home goods, and electronics in addition to their normal fare. It seems that in initial planning HEB was far more concerned about the suburbs of Pearland than the city itself, which is not as highway-dominated as many other parts of Houston. HEB’s plans for their second Pearland store were quite modest in comparison—an 80k Square Foot store to accompany the nearly 150k location on the other side of town. With a legacy Kroger and an at the time recently shuttered Randalls to take on, the smaller store made sense at the time. However, this under planning has led to a less than-fruitful HEB. One thing that was evident in my visit was the store’s selection was limited in terms of ‘general groceries’. The perishables didn’t seem too off base for what I’d expect, but the addition of temporary coolers may be in advance of a SKU increase at the Pearland store. Other locations that have succumbed to a similar fate have been demolished or moved to a new location. It’s not too often we get to see a store under construction these days, but HEB is proving they still know how to pull it off.