Krogering is a Vacation in Galveston

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a guest submission from HHR’s good friend Anonymous in Houston with the photos taken by Mike

Welcome to the summer vacation edition of The Year of Kroger! There is no better place in the Houston area to make a vacation-themed post to start the second half of The Year of Kroger series than on Galveston Island. With that in mind, grab some sunscreen because we will be touring the Kroger Signature store, HO-302, located at 5730 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, TX 77551.

Galveston County is no stranger to Houston Historic Retail. In fact, this month’s The Year of Kroger post isn’t even our first stop in Galveston County in The Year of Kroger series. However, unlike our previous stop at Texas City in April’s The Year of Kroger post, this time we’ll be visiting Galveston Island itself rather than the mainland part of the county. For those unfamiliar with Galveston, Galveston is a coastal beach community along the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to being one of the most historic sites in Texas, it is also a popular tourist destination for those in the Houston area. Tourists come to Galveston for many reasons including to visit the beaches, to take a cruise, to visit amusement parks such as Moody Gardens, and to eat seafood at a place such as Gaido’s. Seawall Boulevard, which runs along the coast, is one of the main tourism corridors of Galveston and that is where the Galveston Kroger is located.

Perhaps the most recurring theme in The Year of Kroger posts so far is that today’s Kroger locations in the Houston area are often replacement stores for previous Kroger/Henke & Pillot locations and that is true in Galveston as well. Kroger has a long history in Galveston which is only fitting given the historic nature of Galveston itself. Henke & Pillot’s history in Galveston goes back to their purchase of three ABC Stores in Galveston in 1941. Around 1949, the ABC name was dropped in favor of the Henke & Pillot name. Henke & Pillot had a location in Galveston located near the Seawall at 4525 Avenue U, Galveston, TX 77551 in what is now a Goodwill thrift store. Kroger also had a location on The Strand, a particularly historical district of Galveston. These locations closed in around 1975 when Kroger HP-165, a Kroger Superstore, opened at 4523 Fort Crockett Blvd, Galveston, TX 77551. This building is currently an Academy Sports & Outdoors store.

Kroger HP-165 served the needs of Galveston shoppers for a quarter of a century, but by the turn of the millennium, Kroger was looking for an upgrade. Randall’s had opened a store near the Galveston Seawall in 1984, a store which we will profile in an upcoming Houston Historic Retail blog post, and the Randall’s gave Galveston shoppers looking for an upscale experience a better, newer experience than what the Kroger Superstore could offer. Thus, Kroger elected to build a brand new Signature store, HO-302, just down Seawall Boulevard from HP-165 in the year 2000.

We previously described Kroger Signature stores in February and March’s The Year of Kroger posts. By 2000, Kroger Signature stores were proven Randall’s fighters and so the Signature format was perfect for taking on the Galveston Randall’s. At around 75,000 sq. ft., the Galveston Kroger is larger than the typical 60,000 sq. ft. Kroger Signature stores we’ve seen in previous The Year of Kroger posts. The decision to build such a large store is an interesting one given size of Galveston and the fact that Kroger could only build a limited parking lot given land size limitations. Although Kroger had long abandoned their national fast food chain food courts at their Signature stores by 2000, Kroger did design their new Galveston store to have an emphasis on prepared foods including having a salad and olive bar which has survived the Covid-19 pandemic. The obvious reason for this is that tourists visiting the Galveston beaches would be looking for a bite to eat, but a less obvious reason for having expanded prepared foods is that both Kroger and Randall’s in Galveston serve the catering needs for the many events taking place around the Galveston area given the tourist appeal of the area. In fact, the Galveston Kroger is wedged in between various hotels and the Galveston Conference Center.

While Mike was photographing the Galveston Kroger, he got to experience the unique dining options at the Galveston Kroger. The store had typical Kroger hot deli fare, such as fried chicken, but they had much more of it cooked than what one would normally see at a Kroger in order to feed the large number of beach-going tourists looking for a hot lunch to take to the beach. In addition to that, the Galveston Kroger has a daily menu item special with items such as chicken-fried steak. Mike went with the Swedish meatballs and stroganoff and reports that it was delicious!

Like a supermarket from the first half of the 20th century, the Galveston Kroger has one of the store’s entrances at the corner of the store. In my opinion, this is a very fitting ‘retro’ design for a store in Galveston. Another striking design feature of the Kroger is the two-story design of the store. The store itself is really a single story store, but like some other Kroger Signature stores built around the turn of the millennium, the store features an open mezzanine above the front end of the store which houses the store’s offices. Being able to see into the store’s offices is a bit of a strange look and this is a more open version of the two-way mirrors used at Houston Safeway stores, but the mezzanine design was starting to become popular at the time. The Houston Midtown Randall’s, which opened around this time, made even further use of the front-end mezzanine to serve as a café seating area. We will tour the mezzanine part of another Houston area Kroger which has customer seating on the mezzanine in a future The Year of Kroger post.

The Galveston Kroger Signature store had some challenges during the construction stage in 2000. The construction contractor, J.G. Johnson Construction Co. of Pasadena, stopped paying their workers during the construction of the store. Construction workers picketed their worksite in an attempt to be compensated for their work. Kroger themselves elected to pay the workers most of what they were owed while they tried to recuperate the money from the contractor. Similar issues with the same contractor plagued the construction of the Briar Forest & Eldridge Kroger in Houston and Kroger had to select a new contractor for a store that was under construction in The Woodlands. Even with these challenges, the Kroger store was built well. After Hurricane Ike devastated the area in September 2008, Kroger was the first major Galveston supermarket to re-open. The store did not sustain flooding and only had a few roof leaks even with the store’s very close proximity to the coastline.

While the Galveston Kroger Signature store was initially designed to be somewhat of an upscale store for Kroger, Kroger has kept the upscale feel of this store via various updates and upgrades over the years. The Galveston Kroger opened with Kroger’s Millennium décor package. Here is a photo of how the Galveston store looked with the Millennium décor package in January 2007. Retail Retell of the Mid-South Retail Blog has an excellent décor guide at his blog describing the Millennium décor package. It seems that not long after that photo was taken, the store was updated to have Kroger’s Script décor package. This can be seen in this photo from July 2007. Like most Houston area Kroger stores, this store was updated to receive Kroger’s Bountiful/2012 décor package in the early 2010s which can be seen in this photo. The store also got a fuel center addition around this time. While many, if not most, Houston Krogers still have the Bountiful décor package, as we’ve seen in earlier The Year of Kroger posts, the Galveston Kroger was an early recipient of a remodel which replaced Bountiful. Around 2017, the store was updated to carry the Banner décor package (Banner is also known as the Marketplace décor package as Banner was frequently used at Kroger Marketplace stores in the 2010s) which it is still using today. We’ve seen Banner before on The Year of Kroger in June’s post about the Baytown Kroger Family Center store, but this is an example of how the décor package looks at a somewhat more traditional Kroger store.

One aspect which helps the Galveston Kroger look more upscale than many other Houston Krogers is the type of flooring the Galveston Kroger has. The store initially had Millennium-era vinyl flooring, but this was updated to a vinyl fake wood floor here in more recent years. This is the same type of flooring update that the Texas City Kroger received. Aesthetics are always subjective, of course, but I believe this fake wood flooring is a vastly superior look for a supermarket than the tile-scarred concrete floors Kroger often uses such as what we saw in May’s The Year of Kroger post about the Kroger at 4000 Polk in Houston.

One unique aspect about the Galveston Kroger is the competition it competes against in Galveston. As mentioned earlier, the closest competitor for Kroger is the Randall’s store located just 0.6 miles from the Kroger. Wal-Mart also has a Supercenter along Seawall Boulevard which is located just 0.9 miles from the Kroger. Target has a standard store located on the site of the former Galvez Mall, but that is more distant. Gordon Food Service plans on opening a new location on the island located on the site of a former Gerland’s. One competitor Kroger does not have in Galveston is HEB. HEB had a Pantry Foods store in an old Safeway on Stewart Road, but this location closed not long after Hurricane Ike hit Galveston. In the mid-2000s, it was rumored that HEB would build a full-line store on the old Kmart site on Stewart Road, but this never happened. With that, Kroger and Randall’s remain as the main traditional supermarkets in Galveston. It is entirely possible that Kroger tries harder to maintain their Galveston store as a more upscale store given that the competition is a fellow upscale store, Randall’s, rather than a more downmarket HEB store.

Mike’s experience shopping at both the Galveston Kroger and Randall’s on a hot summer day is that both stores were very busy, but they were busy with largely differing crowds. While the Randall’s seemed to be serving mostly Galveston residents, the Kroger was serving many shoppers who were clearly visiting the beach. This makes sense given that the Kroger is located along Seawall Blvd. and has better visibility and access for beach tourists. It also makes sense that the locals try to avoid the tourists by shopping at Randall’s. Anyway, the large number of tourists at the Galveston Kroger contributes to a vacation-like feel of the store.

We hope you enjoyed this summer vacation edition of The Year of Kroger! As mentioned earlier, stay tuned to Houston Historic Retail in the coming weeks. Not only will we have more The Year of Kroger posts, but we’ll also have a tour of the Galveston Randall’s. As for the Galveston Kroger, do you have any memories or thoughts about the store? Perhaps you visited this Kroger while on vacation in Galveston? If so, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below. We love to hear from our readers!


  1. A Kroger along the beach! That certainly wasn’t on my bingo card for The Year of Kroger! Definitely a neat, and fitting, store to profile for the month of July. And thanks as always for the shout-outs/links!

    I definitely agree with you that the floor covering makes a world of difference here, and the unique exterior is definitely something else as well. I was surprised to hear the corner entrance isn’t the primary one! The mural is awesome to see as well.

    I agree with AFB that seating along the mezzanine, looking out along the beach, would be a good idea! And I’m glad Sing Oil also pointed out the stencils: I can’t say I’m familiar with the food stencils seen in the hot deli area, either. The flowy ones in the rest of the package, yes, as well as the barn in meat, etc. But not the food ones! Interesting find.

    1. As always, thank you for maintaining the Kroger decor guides! I’m glad you liked the post. I was hoping to do a summer vacation-themed The Year of Kroger post and the Galveston Kroger seemed like the perfect candidate! Most of TYOK photos are taken a few months before the posts go live, but in this case, I’m glad we were able to get the photos just shortly before the post went live. While the Summer Freshtival makes a lot of sense here, it might not make sense later in the year when TYOK posts show some out of season displays, but oh well, lol.

      I really hope that Kroger gets the message that the stores with flooring cover look a lot nicer than their tile scarred concrete floor stores. Hopefully Kroger rethinks their strategy and decides to put in flooring cover at stores that aren’t just higher end stores or very old stores like the Texas City Kroger we saw in May’s TYOK post.

      I agree with you that you’d think the corner entrance would be the main one, but I suppose Kroger prefers to use the doors closer to the entrance rather than the power alley during the evenings. During the lunch rush, I suspect the power alley doors on the corner are the most popular ones with the shoppers. I agree that a mezzanine seating area would have made a lot of sense here and I’m not sure why the store doesn’t have one. We will see another higher-end Houston area Kroger which did get a mezzanine seating area as an addition in a future TYOK post, but such a seating area would have made more sense here than where it ended up!

      I didn’t even realize that the stencil graphics in the deli area are anything special for Banner! Well, that is just another neat aspect to this store. This is a really nice Kroger!

  2. This post really makes me want to go to the beach! At first glance, the corner entrance of this store reminds me of a 28M Publix, but it wasn’t long before I realized the former is roughly 3x the size of the latter!

    Wow, this Kroger actually looks presentable; it is amazing how much of a difference vinyl floors can make in a space! The condensation on the deli coolers also shows how humid it was the day Mike visited, but it’s still a bit surprising to see all of that humidity inside a store. Even in South GA / North FL, the condensation doesn’t usually make it all the way to the deli case. Maybe Kroger was being stingy with their A/C?

    I certainly could have missed it, but I don’t recall seeing so many stencil graphics in the Banner Krogers I’ve been to. I also appreciate that this store received matching aisle signs for the H&BA aisles rather than opting for the alternate versions that match the category markers.

    1. I talked to Mike about your comments regarding the condensation and he did confirm that it was extremely hot and humid in Galveston the day he took these photos. According to Mike, grocery stores usually use an air curtain or double corridor design to reduce these problems, but perhaps the double corridor design implemented by Kroger here still isn’t enough to reduce the problem. Having the deli so close to the entrance probably doesn’t help either, but Kroger really loved their power alleys around the turn of the millennium and so that’s what we have here!

      Retail Retell or NW Retail will probably have better answers to the Banner question, but I believe those stencil graphics are pretty normal for the Banner decor package. At least they are at a Marketplace type store, but perhaps it is more visible here because they managed to squeeze in all the stencil graphics into spaces that are smaller than what we’d see at a Marketplace store or some store with an open ceiling. Well, regardless, I think Banner looks really nice here! We’re going to see another upscale implementation of Banner at a Kroger with a tall drop ceiling and vinyl flooring, albeit of the Fresh Fare/Script era, in a future The Year of Kroger post about another upscale Kroger. That particular Kroger, like the Publix you posted about in your My Florida Retail guest post today, is a store which has seen an expansion…actually two! That post probably won’t go up until the Fall or so, but I think you’ll like that TYOK post!

      1. Interesting, I was actually thinking it looked like it was lacking in stencil graphics, especially when it comes to the produce department! Perhaps Banner is another decor package (similar to Urban Mix) where different divisions have different ideas of how much stuff there should be on the walls.

        1. Interestingly enough, the produce department decor here is more basic than what it is like at most Houston Kroger stores with Banner. Instead of stencil graphics, most stores here with Banner have photo squares around the produce department promoting locally-grown produce. We’ll actually see this in a later The Year of Kroger post which will also show off a higher-end Kroger store with Banner.

  3. You were right, this Kroger is really close to the beach! We have plenty of Publix stores close to the beach here in Florida, but most parts of Florida tend to have a little buffer between the road and the beach, so you don’t get a nice clear view of the water from the parking lot like you do here! It’s somewhat of a shame that this store’s mezzanine is reserved for only offices, as being so close to the beach, the views would have made for a really nice indoor/outdoor dining area (especially with all the prepared foods this store sells). This is a very nice Kroger store overall, and it’s easy to tell that it’s positioned to be more upscale (and having a nice floor helps with that image too!) It would be nice if more Kroger stores were consistently nice like this, as based on the stories I’ve heard, Kroger store like this are more the exception than the norm these days!

    Also, I’m intrigued that the Goodwill store in this picture is branded as “Goodwill Select”. I’ve never seen that branding before, and I’m not sure what makes that Goodwill “Select”, as it looks like a normal Goodwill inside and not anything super fancy. Is that just a common branding for Houston area Goodwill stores?

    1. That’s a bit strange that this Kroger is closer to the beach than what developments are like in Florida. It probably makes sense to keep a buffer between the coast and major buildings like supermarkets, but regulations can be a bit loose here. The Kroger fared well during Hurricane Ike so hopefully it is a nice, strong building.

      Mike actually complained about the somewhat lackluster amount of seating at this Kroger so a mezzanine seating area would probably be justified at this Kroger. We’re going to tour another upscale Kroger later in The Year of Kroger series which actually did add a mezzanine seating area some years after the store opened, but that one doesn’t have the views that this store possibly could have.

      It’s nice to know that Kroger can still run nice stores, but that makes it all the more frustrating that they don’t do it very often!

      For a while, at least during most of the 2010s, I believe all Houston Goodwills were called Goodwill Select stores. The Select name came in when Goodwill of Houston was moving to big box shopping centers with stores sized similarly to the ones you’ve featured on your blog (though some are smaller like this Galveston one). Prior to that, Goodwill had some dinky stores and I think Goodwill wanted to promote a more upscale image. Although most Goodwill Houston stores which are still around (they’ve closed many in the last five years) still carry the Goodwill Select name, it seems Goodwill’s preferred name for their mainline stores these days is ‘Goodwill Connect’. I don’t know for sure, but I think the name is related to some of Goodwill’s other non-retail services. So, yeah, long story short, this Galveston Goodwill Select store is really just an ordinary Goodwill store by modern standards.

      1. I meant to add this to my comment, but I’ll put it as a reply here instead. Goodwill Mississippi also calls its stores Select Stores, but I’m not really sure why, lol. Memphis Goodwill stores are much better, haha!