Celebrating 15 Years of the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blogspot

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a guest submission from HHR’s good friend Anonymous in Houston.  The photos used in this post are republished with permission from Je’s Louisiana & Texas Retail Blogspot.

Houston Historic Retail posts typically cover the history of retailers and retail locations, but today’s post is going to be a little different. Instead of looking at the history of retail establishment, we’ll be celebrating the anniversary of one of our fellow retail blogs, the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blogspot, which has chronicled the history of retail in this region over the past 15 years. Je, the author of the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blogspot, is a friend of HHR and he has graciously donated photos from his photo collection and provided information and news to help us bring better blog posts to our readers here at HHR.

Je recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of his blog and the 500th post on his blog with a special blog post at his blog which also covered the last few years of the Deerbrook Mall Sears. Not only has Je’s blog now hit the special 15 year and 500 post milestones, but the blog also recently surpassed 1,500,000 views . Given that longevity and fame, many HHR readers may already be aware of the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blogspot. For those who aren’t familiar with Je’s blog, Je is based in Houston and covers retail in Texas, Louisiana, and Mexico. The bulk of Je’s posts are about malls and department stores, but Je has covered several supermarkets, big box stores, drug stores, and other types of retailers on his blog over the years.

I first came to know of Je through his contributions to the DeadMalls and the now-defunct Labelscar websites/blogs. Back in 2009, when blogging was really taking off throughout the Internet, Je launched the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blogspot. I found the blog early on and was thrilled to finally see coverage of Houston’s retail scene on the Internet. Prior to the creation of Je’s blog, and later HHR, Houston’s retail scene and history were not covered very well at all on the Internet. One could find a little information about Houston’s retailers at HAIF and general retail social media pages, but Houston retail generally got a lot less attention than other parts of the country.

Over the years, almost all the other national and regional retail blogs from the decade of the 2000s have either discontinued updates or have been completely deleted off the Internet. Fortunately, Je continues to update his blog regularly with new photos and articles. Je’s blog was also one of the first regional retail blogs to help cover the Gulf Coast region. In the years since Je launched his blog, the Mid-South Retail Blog, the Sing Oil Blog, the Albertsons Florida Blog/My Florida Retail blogs, and HHR have also launched. All of these blogs cover Gulf Coast retail from Texas all the way to Florida.

Mike and I were able to ask Je some questions about his history of chronicling this region’s retail history:

Anonymous in Houston: You started your blog during the middle of the Global Financial Crisis of the late 2000s. At the time, category killer big box stores such as Circuit City and Borders were closing left and right. Malls that were not doing well in the 1990s and early 2000s were starting to go extinct. We were starting to see the rise of online retail. How did all these changes influence your motivation to start a retail blog?

Je: Seeing the rapid decline of many well known brands and retail centers, I knew that I should start documenting those places. Most blogs and sites at the time were focusing on nationwide coverage. I thought a regional blog for the Texas and Louisiana states would be something worth covering. We already liked to take road trips so I decided to take a few detours here and there to document stuff for the blog.

Anonymous in Houston: The first time I saw your commentary was in the comments section of the old Labelscar blog. I know that many of our readers are younger or are otherwise relatively new to the retail history hobby. What was it like reading those early retail blogs, photostreams, and websites?

Je: I found DeadMalls.com and read about the decline of Dixie Square Mall around 2002. My favorite New Orleans area mall Belle Promenade failed in 2000 so the topic really caught my attention. The rabbit hole I fell into researching dead malls sparked a new hobby for me. A lot of the earlier sites had articles written by contributors and few to no photos of the mall. In many cases the photos were very blurry and hard to see. YouTube was not around at the time, so you could not truly experience a dead mall without visiting the property in person.

Anonymous in Houston: Many of the early retail blogs from the 2000s focused on malls. Many of the retail blogs and websites of the early-mid 2010s focused especially on Kmart and Sears. Current retail blogs often focus on supermarkets. In many ways, your blog has followed these trends as you chronicled our region’s Kmart and Sears stores in the 2010s and you’ve chronicled many local Fiesta Mart stores in the last couple of years. That said, I think it is fair to say that malls have always been the main focus of your blog. In your opinion, what makes documenting malls so interesting? Do you find documenting malls today to be as interesting as it was back in 2009?

Je: Documenting malls today is not as interesting as in the past since we have covered so many malls. I try to find something new everytime I revisit a mall. In fact, there are a few new things that were found in 2023 at Macroplaza and Greenspoint. A lot of the businesses that I covered early on are now gone or have changed significantly. Every now and then something new comes up that I want to check out like the Toys R Us additions to Macy’s. Malls are an ever-changing business model, stores come and go all of the time. Malls can also fade and slowly die off as opposed to a grocery store or big box retailer. The variety of stores in malls has also fascinated me as well. In my earlier years, malls were a one-stop shop for everything except groceries. Now malls are mostly clothing stores, restaurants, and entertainment options. A few malls have a little more variety in store selection.

Mike: Your blog has inspired me greatly. Its existence is directly responsible for Houston Historic Retail. Are there any subjects you wish you had photographed before you lost the chance due to demolition or otherwise?

Je: It is pretty cool to see that we played a part in HHR’s existence. Deadmalls.com, Caldor Rainbow, Dumpy Strip Malls, and Labelscar directly influenced me all those years ago to create a regional blog.

In answer to the first question. I never made it into the closed off Montgomery Ward corridor to photograph it at San Jacinto Mall before it was demolished. There are a few more spots I would like to see one more time before they are gone, but that was the biggest miss for me.

Anonymous in Houston: Anyone who has seen our prior conversations in the comments section of your blog knows that Montgomery Ward and Service Merchandise were both favorite stores of ours. It has now been almost a quarter of a century since those two chains closed, not counting the rebooted versions of those stores, and Sears is gone this area as well. What are your thoughts here in 2024 about the legacy of these demised retailers?

Je: I think the memory of those retailers has faded, we will be the last generation to fondly remember those retailers. Remaining Montgomery Wards sites are very difficult to find these days. The Montgomery Ward catalogs are keeping the name alive, but it is a niche market. Sears on the other hand still has a lot of ghost properties that have signage intact. The department store model that these stores helped refine is still used today at retailers like Walmart and Target. The catalogs that were the showcases of those retailers have been replaced by Amazon and basically every modern online retailer. The business model of old where people had time to shop is gone for now. Cell phones rule our lives and the convenience of on-line shopping is hard to compete with.

Anonymous in Houston: Smartphones were something brand new when you started the blog. Now, of course, smartphone cameras take much better photos than they used to in the 2000s. Have you changed your blogging and photographing methods much over the years?

Je: I have gotten more comfortable documenting malls since cell phone cameras are faster and so much better than before. Just about everyone has their phones out so it is easier to photograph stores without security getting mad. Initially I used digital cameras for documentation and a few 35mm shots of Belle Promenade. Before I started truly documenting malls with a purpose, I did a few videos on VHS of Belle Promenade Mall. I learned a lot over the years, especially photography because my early photos were pretty rough. The technology upgrades over the years have been a game changer especially when photographing neon signs. I am not a huge fan of doing videos, but every now and then I take video footage. Photos are what I prefer to take and use to tell the story of the property.

Mike and I came up with a list of some of our favorite posts from the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blogspot which we think will be of interest to HHR readers:

Buyers Market I-10 West (2013) & Buyer’s Market Mall North Houston Texas (2013) –

The Fry Rd. and Airtex Buyer’s Market Malls were an attempt at creating off-price indoor shopping malls in the early 1980s when such malls were popular. This craze waned quickly and the Buyer’s Market Malls had short lives. That said, Garden Ridge Pottery famously took over these two malls and turned them into very large stores with the mall structures mostly kept intact indoors. Je was able to visit the Fry Rd. Garden Ridge before the store relocated to a new At Home building and Je was also able to visit the Armadillo Flea Market in the old Airtex Garden Ridge shortly before that building was torn down.

Deauville North Fashion Mall Spring Tx. (2013), Gulf Deauville Mall Webster Tx. (2013), Deauville Mall Kingwood; Kingwood Texas (2013), & Deauville Fashion Mall Stafford TX (2013) –

Like with the Buyer’s Market Malls mentioned above, the four Houston-area Deauville Fashion Malls were short-lived off-price malls from the 1980s which were redeveloped in various ways. It was great that Je was able to document all these Deauville Fashion Malls.

Never built Houston Malls 1980’s to 1990’s (2014)

One of the more intriguing posts on the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blogspot is one discussing proposed Houston-area malls which were never built. It is fun to think about what could have been!

Pasadena Town Square Pasadena Texas (2009) –

This post is a re-post of a 2006 post Je wrote for a defunct website. The photos in the blog post show photos of Pasadena Town Square from when it was struggling, but struggling far less so than what the mall is doing today under the mall’s current name, Macroplaza Mall.

Northline Mall Houston Texas (2009) –

In one of Je’s earliest posts, we see some rare images from inside Northline Mall in the years shortly before it was torn down and replaced with the powercenter which exists on the property today.

North Oaks Mall Houston Texas (2014) –

North Oaks Mall has changed a lot over the years. For one, it is no longer a mall, but Je was able to get some photos from inside the remaining mall corridor that was left before the mall’s movie theater closed.

Greenspoint Mall 2017 & 2018 Update (2019) –

Je has done many great posts about Greenspoint Mall over the years, so it is hard to pick just one post for this list, but this post is a comprehensive update from the mall from just after the period where Macy’s left the mall.

Mall of the Mainland March 20, 1991 – January 29, 2014 (2014) –

The wind-down of the Mall of the Mainland was covered extensively by Je through various posts and comments in the early years of the blog. This comprehensive post chronicles the troubling times the mall had over the years.

Almeda and Northwest, the Houston twin malls photographed from 2013-2016 (2016) –

The concept of a city having twin malls on opposite sides of town from one another is certainly not common, but that’s what we had in Houston with Almeda and Northwest Malls. Je’s photos show how similar the two malls are to one another and Je also chronicles Almeda Mall’s transformation after the major renovation the mall received in the mid-2010s. Here again, Je has many posts about both malls, but this post does highlight the unique twin mall aspect of these malls.

Amigoland Mall Brownsville Texas March 2020 (2020) –

In one of Je’s most anticipated posts, Je returned to the southernmost part of Texas in 2020 to visit a mall which had long been closed as a traditional retail mall, but which had stayed open as a community center type of mall. Thus, Je was able to explore the unique design of the mall and many retail remnants left from the prior anchor tenants including some remaining Montgomery Ward signage and the JCPenney supermarket.

Marshall Mall/Marshall Place Summer 2020 (2021) –

Je has covered many smaller city malls in Louisiana and Texas and here is a good example of a mall which has somewhat successfully redeveloped with new anchors, such as Ollie’s, replacing old, closed anchors.

Fry’s Electronics West Rd. 2019 (2020), Fry’s Electronics NASA Webster Texas 2019 (2020), & Fry’s Electronics Southwest Houston 2019 (2020) –

Fry’s Electronics had some of the most spectacular looking big box stores in Houston so it is no surprise that Je extensively toured each of the three Houston Fry’s Electronics locations. Now that these stores are all gone, it is interesting to look back at just how nice those stores were.

ALCO Pasadena Tx (2013) –

Alco was a discount store chain which primarily operated in small towns. For some reason, they decided to open two short-lived locations in Houston in the early 2010s, one on Gessner near Memorial City Mall and one in Pasadena in part of an old Kmart building. Je toured the Pasadena Alco during the brief time it was around.

Kmart McAllen Texas March 2020, last 30 days of business! (2022) –

Je has done many posts about Kmart over the years as he chronicled the last few years of Kmart in Texas and Louisiana. The McAllen Kmart was the last Kmart in Texas and it was one of the nicer of the handful of Texas Kmarts which survived Kmart’s 2002 bankruptcy. Je did a few posts about the McAllen Kmart, but it is interesting to evaluate what might well be the last Kmart post on the blog.

Lufkin Texas Kmart and Sears Summer 2015 update (2015) –

The Lufkin Kmart has been one of the most popular discussion points on the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blogspot over the years even in the years after the store closed. Many jokes have been made about the infamous Walkman woman hovering over the Kmart electronics department.

Goodbye Sears Great Indoors; the last location in Houston TX (2012) –

Like with Kmart, Je has done many Sears posts over the years. One of the most unique ones was his tour of the Town & Country area The Great Indoors store before it closed for good. It is great to have photos of this very unique concept from Sears.

Sears Grand Austin Tx. (2014) –

Je was able to visit the only Sears Grand store in this region, the Austin Sears Grand store. Sears Grand was a new format for Sears in the early 2000s designed to help Sears open new locations in an era when new malls were not being built and when big-box retailers were dominating retail. Sears Grand was essentially a big-box format of Sears that combined full-line Sears store items with some everyday items typically sold by discount stores. While this new format could have made Sears viable in current times, Sears unfortunately did not expand this concept beyond the first batch of stores. Still, it is great that Je was able to document the Sears Grand format.

Sears Midtown Houston photos from 2015 & 2016 (2016) –

The Midtown Houston Sears has been one of the most-discussed Sears locations covered by Je over the years. It is great to remember this historic Houston retailer.

Sears CDMX 11 stories! March 2019 (2020) –

Some of the most informative and impressive posts Je has done have been his posts about Mexican retail. Believe it or not, upscale looking mid-tier and upper-tier department stores which sell a variety of goods, which have largely faded away in the United States, are alive and well in Mexico in the 2020s. One of the nicer mid-tier department stores in Mexico is, perhaps shockingly, Sears! Obviously, Sears Mexico is not connected to the US Sears and so Sears Mexico has not been affected by the problems the chain has faced in the US. Je’s photos from the Sears in central Mexico City must be seen to be believed!

Goodbye Macy’s Sage at the Galleria (2014) –

It always seemed strange when a mall had two in-line tenants of the same store in different places within the mall. For a handful of years, The Galleria had something even more odd, two complete full-line Macy’s stores! At the time Foley’s became Macy’s, Macy’s still had the sole remaining location in Houston at The Galleria and then there was The Galleria Foley’s which became Macy’s. These two locations co-existed for a few years before the Macy’s at Sage, the store Macy’s built themselves, finally closed. Macy’s kept the Macy’s at Sage a mid-1980s time capsule up until the time it closed and Je was able to capture this retro department store right before it closed.

Palms Center Montgomery Ward (2013) & Former Montgomery Ward; Pasadena Flea Market (2014) –

In these two posts, Je chronicled how two former Montgomery Ward stores served new lives as flea markets. In the case of the Palms Center Montgomery Ward, the building was torn down and replaced with a new housing development not long after Je took these photos. It is good that Je was about to tour that former Montgomery Ward while he still had a chance to do so.

Drug Emporium Longview, Texas (2014) –

This blog post is one of three posts Je has done about Drug Emporium and I’ve really enjoyed all of them. I fondly remember the North Oaks Mall Drug Emporium and it is great to see Je’s photos of Drug Emporium in modern times since they’ve not changed much at all since the 1990s!

Fiesta Mart #20 Willowchase 2020 and 2022 visits with guest commentary (2023) –

Finally, here is a favorite post of mine which I am biased towards liking since Mike and I had some involvement with this post! In 2023, Je posted several photos documenting the history of the unique décor at the Willowchase Fiesta Mart in Houston. It was a pleasure to assist Je with this project. Je has done many great posts chronicling the disappearing neon at several Houston-area Fiesta Mart locations.

In conclusion, happy anniversary to the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blogspot! As documented by some of the photos and favorite posts above, the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blogspot continues to be one of the vital sources for historic information about Houston retail. At this point, Je has covered many retailers which have since closed and been demolished so even Je’s older posts which were not intended to be historical records are now historical records. If you have any thoughts or comments about the history of chronicling Houston’s retail history, or if you would like to mention your favorite blog posts from the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blogspot, please feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below. We love to hear from our readers!


    1. You’re welcome! Your blog has certainly helped to fill-in the gaps in coverage that existed between Je and Retail Retell’s part of the south and AFB’s part.

  1. This is such a nice piece that really brings back a lot of memories for me. Me and my family really appreciate the look back at some of your favorite blog posts. So much has changed over the years and I was glad to do my part to document as much as possible so we can look back. Thank you so much for this awesome post!

    1. I’m glad that you and your family enjoyed the post! It was fun going back through the old posts on your blog and reliving the memories of the subjects, many of which are gone now, and reading over the old comments. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what you’ll be posting in the future as well!

    1. You’re welcome! It really is neat how there are blogs covering all the southern Gulf states and yours is certainly one of them!