Over the last three years, HHR has been keeping an eye on a Florida-based “C-Store adjacent” concept, Farm Stores, which first announced its intent to come to Houston in 2016. While their first planned Katy location would not work out, they would eventually arrive in 2020. Farm Stores isn’t exactly a new idea, with the concept debuting in the late 50s. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a drive-thru liquor store but swaps hard alcohol for an expanded grocery selection. It also adds fresh baked goods, sandwiches, and coffees, making it more akin to a C-Store. The chain’s initial push called for three stores in Houston by 2017 and 50 by 2023. Unfortunately, though, the chain seems to be absent from the market as of this post. While this 2016 expansion focused on Houston, it also called for Louisiana, Georgia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania stores. None of these stores would end up opening in their original 2016-2017 timeframe. While the first store to open outside of Florida had been proposed as Katy, it would end up being beaten out by Scott, Louisiana, by at least a few months. In the months following the Katy store’s opening, the expansion would continue to bring Farm Stores to new states. Their most significant jump would be the purchase of a long-standing Pennsylvania-based competitor, Swiss Farms.
With the focus now split between integrating existing Swiss Farms into Farm Stores and building out new Farm Stores locations, it seems that emphasis on growth in the South was somewhat dropped. Farm Stores dropped out of Louisiana, Kentucky, and even a store in New Jersey. At least in the case of the Houston store, it seems that the owner is still seeking an operator and not looking to shut down permanently. However, Louisiana does not seem to be in the same boat with a gourmet soda store planned for the building. While Farm Stores never seemed to make a splash in Houston, they did have at least some more concrete plans than the public saw. Some stores under development I could track down include one in La Porte and two locations in San Antonio. These stores are actually the company’s second go at Texas, after a failed franchising attempt in the 1970s, which left Dallas with a constructed but never opened Farm Stores. It’s unclear at this point what Farm Stores’ plan is for Texas. According to their website, franchises are available in Texas, presumably including the Katy location. Given that it has been vacant for at least six months, I wonder if it will reopen. For now, Farm Stores seems more focused on the North than Texas.