Howdy folks, and welcome to the only publication this week for HHR and the last of 2023. Today, we’re going to take a brief look back at some of the posts we had in 2023 before regularly scheduled programming returns next week in 2024! This was a banner year for Houston Historic Retail. Readership and commenting are up, as is social media engagement. Everything, really! Before we start, I have to give a couple of shoutouts to the incredible team behind Houston Historic Retail. While the blog is my baby, I would be foolish without mentioning the incredible help I receive. I want to mention Anonymous in Houston, who spearheaded the entire The Year of Kroger project, and Jason McMillon, who did an excellent job writing up the history of AMC Theaters in Houston. I should also mention billytheskink (who provided his own TYOK guest post) and Pseudo3d of Carbon-izer.com, who, along with a few members of the Houston grocery industry, helped to provide a great deal of research used on the blog. Next, I would like to thank my readers. I have had the delightful time of watching readership trend upward this past year, and while I know it may not stay this way, it’s nice to know that what I’m putting out there is being read, so thank you all. Without further to do, let’s go ahead and begin!
Comings & Goings
I feel like we should start off by reviewing some of the retail news we had over the year. The year 2023 was an important one for Houston retail. First, it marked the first time a new regional grocer had attempted our market in ten years! So, I had a blast covering the build-up and somewhat lackluster arrival of Gordon Food Stores in Houston. As long as GFS holds true to its promises, we’ll continue to see new stores open into 2024, and it’s also worth adding they seem to be finding their niche here. This year, we also saw local grocer Foodarama both add a location and lose a long-standing store. HHR also had the opportunity to “break the news” that three Sprouts stores would close in Houston in 2023. Most significant, though, was likely the Midtown Whole Foods closure coverage. On the lighter side of things, I was also lucky enough to work with the team at Daiso to attend their grand opening and speak with the folks behind Honey Farms, the company rebranding the Exxon Timewise stores.
Let’s go, Krogering!
First off, I’d like to once again thank Anonymous in Houston for taking control of The Year of Kroger. This project had its roots in 2022 when AIH first drafted a working list of stores for me to photograph. Beyond that, this was totally his baby and easily the biggest project anyone other than me has undertaken for HHR. The idea was simple in concept: Kroger has a big role in Houston, probably much bigger than most of us realize. They’ve been a dominant grocer since purchasing Henke & Pilot in 1955, a chain with roots in the 1800s! The Year of Kroger was interesting because it helped us connect to the past, like learning that there has been a store at 4000 Polk for 90+ years. We also learned that Kroger did Signature store experimentation at Cypress Station, which had effects throughout the entire company. I also enjoyed looking at the different styles of Kroger representation we have left in the Houston division. From Greenhouse to Family Center or Krogertsons to Krog-way, we’ve got it all!
Stepping Back in Time
Finally, to close things out, let’s step back in time as we look at some posts about long-gone retail fixtures. First and foremost, I want to mention the trip through Rummel Creek Weingarten, which is something I never thought I’d be able to see! A huge thanks are owed to fellow retail enthusiast Pleasent Family Shopping, who provided me with the Annual Reports that contained these photos. They’re a great find not just for HHR but for Houstonians in general. Another great trip down memory lane was going through a 1980s Safeway Annual Report! While not dealing with Houston specifically, it was still fun to see all these puzzle pieces of Safeway’s often-mentioned but not well-documented history of diversification. The last two “honorable mentions” aren’t old photos but rather new photos of old things. One of them is Zeigler’s Market in Dickinson, a great retail remnant with an unknown future, and the second was the final “Neon King” Fiesta had at the time, Mission Bend. While Fiesta’s future is a bit more clear, its status as a top-tier example of Houston grocery design, is not.
Thank you for your readership and appreciation. If you find what I do useful, please consider leaving a small donation to help cover costs. Well, that’s all folks; HHR will return in 2024! -Mike