Retail News: Houston nets two new Asian grocers on the West Side

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99 Ranch Market and Seafood City opened new Houston-area locations last week. Both stores are established specialty Asian grocers based in California, with large followings of loyal fans. While they share many similarities, there are some stark differences between the two chains. 99 Ranch Market is a broad Asian market importing products from many different countries and cultures but mostly focuses on mainland Asia. On the other hand, Seafood City primarily focuses on Filipino products and carries a broader selection of Southeast Asian items. 99 Ranch Market has been in the Houston area since 2009 and has opened four locations since then. This newest store is located in the new West on West shopping center and is meant to be the centerpiece of an Asian-themed shopping center. Seafood City is located in the Sugar Land Commons, and this is the chain’s first location in Texas and its furthermost West at this point. While the two chains go after subsections of the same consumer group, there is considerable overlap. While only time will tell how successful Seafood City is at working its way through the Houston market, if the grand opening crowd is anything to go by, they won’t have much trouble. Both buildings represent a recent change in the Houston grocery market. Rather than going after second-generation grocery spaces, both companies gutted and rebuilt two non-grocery spaces. 99 Ranch Market is in a former CompUSA, which sat vacant for years. Seafood City is a former Service Merchandise turned Conn’s, and also sat vacant for years. Gordon Food Stores did similar location scouting on their entry to Houston last year.