Did Fleming tank a Minimax to let Randalls flourish in Spring?

Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail! Today, we’re looking at a former Randalls at the corner of Louetta and Kukyendahl. The carcass of this former grocery store has been one of three stores to open and close at this corner since the 1980s. Let’s start with some regional history; this portion of Northwest Houston was an early swing and a hit for Houston’s Remarkable Store. Randalls hit the ground running with the former Champions Handy Andy and made a name for themselves in an area where their predecessor chain never operated. Throughout the early 80s, Randalls would look for new locations on the Northwest side of town, and in 1986 they would open this location. Randalls was not however the first grocer at this corner, it was preceeded by a Kroger on the SW side, and a Minimax on the SE side of the intersection. Minimax was first to the intersection opening in 1980 as a last-ditch effort to save the co-op grocer by building larger stores. Kroger eyeing this as an area of expansion, and betting on a dying Minimax opened at competing location across Kukyendahl in 1982. For the first five years of its life, Fleming operated its store under the name Village Green Minimax. However, as soon as Randalls opened, Fleming would offload this store to a franchisee. At this point in Minimax’s life, the chain was on the brink of being abandoned both by Fleming and its operators, and as Wheat’s Minimax would only operator for a few months. Fleming knew the beast that opened across the street with this Randalls; at the time, they were the stores primary supplier. Randall’s second iteration even has early ties to Minimax, which by 1986 still allowed for a very close relationship with their supplier. It’s quite likely that Fleming not only knew this Minimax would fail but also wanted it to. The gain in supplying a Randalls, which they did not run, versus running the Minimax likely made it more profitable to tank their own store and lease it to a non-grocery tenant, which is exactly what they did. For the next 10 years, The Salvation Army would inhabit the former Minimax, and Kroger and Randalls would duke it out of the caddy corner across from each other.

Presented with the option of Kroger and Randalls, it seems that the traffic split was much different at the corner than the Minimax days. Customers flocked to the pretty new Randalls, which of nothing else outdid the Kroger regarding available services. While Kroger didn’t lose all of its traffic, it was certainly at a disadvantage. The smaller Greenhouse store had been designed to compete against a Minimax that no longer existed, and the much larger Randalls could offer much more. For the next 10 years, the two stores would represent a fight that was taking place all over town. However, development in this area would continue unabated, and as such, when they had the first opportunity to expand, Kroger would. In 1996, the Salvation Army in the former Minimax would close, as Kroger had purchased the lot. They would evict the tennants in the adjacent strip center sections, and demolish the complex to build a new Signature store. The new Kroger would open by the end of 1996, as a huge new competitor to a Randalls which was now 10 years old. In response to this new store, Randalls would remodel in 1997, and slightly expand their store, mostly adding the new facade and entrance which still don the building to this day. In this remodel, the store also received an interior update, convincingly helping to hide the store’s age. In 2003, Kroger would once again expand, adding a fuel station. The Randalls would also hold a “grand re-opening” (per them not me) which was their announcement of the proto version of Lifestyle remodel. In reality, the Proto-Lifestyle remodel was the beginning of the end for the store. As far as I can tell, this location never received Flagship branding (even when that became just a nameplate), it never had a fuel station, and the remodel removed things like the restaurant, video rentals, and dry cleaners. With the heart and soul of Randalls removed the chain as a whole began to die. This Randalls was part of the broader 2005 closures, which slowed Randalls down more severely than any subsequent cuts. For years the location sat vacant, Goodwill took the right side of the building gutting everything around 2011. Dollar Tree took the left side of the building around 2013, and the center of the store has remained unoccupied for nearly 10 years since it closed. The store is representative of many others throughout Houston, and asks what would have happened if competent hands had recieved Randalls.


  1. I could have sworn there was another store in the middle section at some point. Like a clothing store. But I couldn’t find anything on old street view images

    1. You’re correct, one of my Facebook commenters mentioned it was briefly a Steve & Barry’s! From what I can tell they lasted maybe a year at most, they were in and out quick for sure.