HHR’s first visit to a Sellers Bros and the Weingarten’s Gerland’s connection

Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail! In this episode, we’re going somewhere we’ve never been before, so you know it’s special! Today, we’ll be visiting HHR’s first Sellers Bros. Well, at least, the first full store, as the two free-standing C-Stores were featured on HHR a few years back. This example at 9494 Hammerly Blvd, Houston, TX 77080, originally started life in 1979 as a Weingarten’s, and has a cool story. Weingarten’s #62 was only the chain’s third location in the Spring Branch area. The first Spring Branch Weingarten’s opened in 1956 at Long Point and Wirt and was an early example of the “Ranch Style Weingarten’s.” The store was a bit of a “show off” in the middle of Gerland’s country. For example, it was the second location in the chain to feature UPC barcode scanners. It’s unclear what exactly kept Weingarten from expanding in the area. Still, a common rumor in grocery circles seems to be that the local chains mostly had a gentlemen’s agreement in avoiding each other’s home bases. So how did this Weingarten’s end up here? Well, in 1973, Weingarten’s took over the operation and lease of the four Target Foods Supermarkets in town. One was in Hedwig Village, which would operate until 1979, when it was booted by Target’s desire to lease the space to Marshalls. Likely to help keep store count and profits up before putting themselves up for sale, this location was planned and opened in 1979, coincidentally the same year the Weingarten family agreed to sell their grocery chain to Grand Union.

Almost immediately after Weigarten’s sale, things began to fall apart quickly, but that’s a separate article, specifically this one. Weingarten’s quick downfall meant stores went up for sale still in operation. In December 1983, Weingarten’s announced their plans to shut down, and by February, they had sold the bulk of their stores to various operators, including this location to Gerland’s. One of the smaller buyers, this location was likely a special deal or possibly even a bit of a concession for Gerland’s, who christened it Store No. 1 (which relocated multiple times over the years). The store was a personal point of pride for Gerland’s, who likely ran it above the standard it opened to in 1979. Unfortunately, though, undocumented issues would prompt Gerland’s to ditch the store in late 1998. A brief, undocumented stint as “Gerland’s Food Pantry” indicates that sales were probably lagging due to changing demographics. In 2000, the Sellers Bros chain would get its hands on this old Weingarten’s. They would strip out most of the remaining Gerland’s appointments, updating to the chain Sellers Bros. standards. Sellers Bros. overall has done quite well. Originally established around 1950 as an independent grocer, it would slowly grow to a chain of supermarkets by the 90s. The chain fills a unique niche in the Houston market. It’s not specifically a Hispanic Supermarket but seems to serve a customer base closer to Fiesta. It would be a good comparison, a smaller neighborhood Fiesta, and overall an enjoyable experience. In late 2019, Rafael Ortega

One comment

  1. I don’t remember ever seeing any of the larger Sellers Bros stores on the east side. I remember the brand specifically because of a convenience store that was the endcap of the strip mall at 729 Queens Rd in Pasadena. If you use the Google Maps time machine you can see that it was still their personnel training center up until about 2018. Anyway, back in the ’70s a couple of friends and I would ride our bikes to that store even though it was several miles away, because they had the BEST candy selection in all of Pasadena. A lot of our allowance money went to that store!