Joe V’s in Katy shows how the concept has grown

Howdy, folks, and welcome back to HHR. Today, we’re checking out a new Joe V’s. In fact, it’s the newest store in the chain at the moment. Located at 4107 N Fry Rd, Katy, TX 77449, this Joe V’s is likely a template for the locations we’ll soon see popping up in DFW. In case you live under a rock, Joe V’s is a banner HEB operates. It focuses on low prices, dropping service departments, decor, and selection in favor of the dollar. While Joe V’s may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no doubt the banner has been successful for Texas’ largest grocer. This new location shows that HEB is close to perfecting the concept for mass expansion. In fact, with the opening of this Katy location, it became the largest HEB sub-brand, overtaking Central Market, which has 10 locations. In short order, at least three new Joe V’s are under construction, and at least one other location is proposed in Houston. Those who remember Pantry Foods may draw some similarities between that concept and Joe V’s, and you’re not off base. However, many obvious lessons are applied from the Pantry Foods era to these stores. For example, Pantry Foods placed extreme emphasis on “center store” items, cutting back on the selection of perishables. This is not the case at Joe V’s, which has more produce, dairy, and meat options than its predecessor. While there are no service departments, the store also has an operating bakery, cranking out fresh bolillos and pan dulces. However, you won’t be able to get a cake decorated here. HEB has even tested adding Curbside pickup to Joe V’s at one location, although this was not brought to Katy for whatever reason. The lessons learned since 2010 have turned a store that was pitched as an Aldi alternative and transformed it into something else.

In my opinion, HEB has built Joe V’s into a Winco killer. For those who don’t know Winco, the company started out as Waremart in Bosie, ID, in 1967. Over the next 50 years, the company expanded, and its employees purchased it from the original owners. The chain is best known for low prices, dropping decor, and services like bagging and lack of credit card acceptance to keep costs down. Sound familiar? When Winco moved into Texas in 2014, they had grand plans that were followed up with building a large distribution center North of Dallas, which also serves stores in Oklahoma. It’s worth noting that while Winco has a similar model to Joe V’s, the Idaho grocer generally carries about double the number of items Joe V’s does. Part of this stems from the fact that Winco stores generally include a very basic deli and bakery and a small amount of hot food. Honestly, I think a better comparison would be that Winco is a “meet in the middle” between Joe V’s and HEB. In the few years they’ve been in Dallas, the chain has become quite popular; many stores have even returned to 24-hour operation, making them the only grocer in the state to do so (as far as I know). While Tom Thumb and Kroger have the market share advantage, HEB will likely have a price competitor in Winco. That’s why I think Joe V’s has been designed to take on Winco directly. The adoption of the bakery and expanded selection of Hispanic products in Houston will help to appeal to a wide base of customers here, and it’s an idea that should translate equally to DFW. Winco has also been a bit unsteady in Texas, only building ten stores from 2014-2018. The company had plans to build a store in a former Sears in Texarkana but called them off in 2023. While we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds for Winco, I don’t foresee Joe V’s having trouble in Dallas.

One comment

  1. That general area of North Katy is quite interesting in that there’s this Joe V’s there now, and it seems to fit the area, but not too far off is the Randalbertsons on Barker Cypress & Clay which Mike and I documented on HHR last year where the locals successfully chased Food Lion off from opening a store on that land before Albertsons built their store. That Randall’s is still viable so it just goes to show how there are areas in the Houston area where discount grocers can rub shoulders with what constitutes a higher-end grocer in the Houston area.

    It probably helps Randall’s to some degree that the Bear Creek HEB is considered to be a mediocre HEB even by the HEB loyalists. There might be some HEB shoppers in that area who figure Joe V’s isn’t that much of a drop compared to that HEB if that is the closest HEB. I’m sure that’s not what HEB wants as the profit margins are surely better at the regular HEB stores. But ,hey, to a lot of people, one austere warehouse store selling HCF goods is just as good as another and the one with better prices might be deemed even better.

    That said, I have noticed that there are people who don’t want Joe V’s opening in their areas (we experienced that when Joe V’s was rumored to take over the Jones & West Randall’s that later became a HEB), but that doesn’t mean those same people won’t shop at Joe V’s.