The History of HHR for its 10th Anniversary!

Howdy, folks, and welcome back to HHR. Today is the semi-official 10th anniversary of Houston Historic Retail. I want to take a break from the regular pattern and let you all take a peak behind the curtain of HHR. First, let me explain the discrepancy that makes this semi-official. Houston Historic Retail debuted in 2014 on a free WordPress site that only a handful of people saw. The original content was all migrated here to this site one year later, in 2015. The original material from the 2014 site was based on research documents I had been working on for a bit. I had a job at Randalls in a store that I knew was a former Weingarten’s, but it had an oddity: a basement. I had no clue at the time, but the basement was built for a planned mall, which would have been the first in the United States. During my research, I found a bit of an online retail community, including Pesudo3d of, who still regularly contributes to research. I wanted a way to share my findings with others, so I wrote the first HHR pages in 2014. When the site debuted, it was completely bare bones, but just like today, it relied heavily on newspaper articles. While a few sources were available online, the Chronicle only had a text going back to 1985 at the time. This means that for any earlier research, I had to find the articles via Microfilm or, if I was lucky, a clipping at the since-renamed Houston Metropolitan Research Center. The early days of HHR had low but continual visitorship, with very few people ever electing to comment. I also did not feature a blog for the first year. At the time, I was working my way through college and wrote the pages as a hobby. The first pages were written about chains I remembered in the Houston area that had left, such as Circuit City, Krispy Kreme, and Albertsons. Others were chains that I didn’t remember, but. I knew I had been in Houston, like Safeway and Food Lion. This version of HHR saw a small uptick in traffic but was continually silent. Around this time, I decided to try my hand at a blog.

Will HHR make it to 20 years? We’ll see!

I was active in the retail community on Flickr at the time and had a good following there. In an attempt to get traffic to the site, I tried a few token blog posts. While they did bring in readers, it didn’t bring engagement, and I looked at other outlets. I tried making YouTube videos for a while (something I plan to pick back up) and found that YouTube was quite receptive to my content, which was usually abandoned retail, something I have an interest in. In 2017, I featured photos of the recently shuttered Northwest Mall taken from inside the still-then-open Palais Royal, which were rediscovered a year later by a writer for who featured the photos in an article, which led to a huge influx of new visitors. I also finally had a few “regular” commenters. I followed this up with more regular posts, which again dropped off after a lack of follow-up. In late 2018, based on some advice from a friend, I started a Facebook page for HHR, which I initially kept separate from the blog. When I eventually started sharing blog posts on Facebook, I quickly gained a small but loyal core audience of readers. You guys are probably the only ones from Facebook to make it this far in the post, lol. When the pandemic hit, and I suddenly had copious amounts of free time on my hands, I tried to make a go at regular blog posts. I trotted out some of my biggest hits, like an homage to Swamplot’s Demolition Reports, and abandoned retail to a good response. As the lockdown ended, my blogging slowed down, but it became a sort of stress relief when I could do it. The next year, I prepared to return to college and start my Masters. I made the mistake of once again trying to start up regular blogging as the small posts semeed to be gaining regular traction. While I had time in my schedule to write a post, I didn’t have time for writing three per week, a decision I had to take back.

More recently, I have completed my Masters, and posting has not slowed down. I’ve also built up quite a following on Facebook. The increased traffic, along with inflation, did necessitate the advertising on HHR, which, by the way, if you’re blocking, please don’t feel remorse, and if you’d like to block, feel free to do so, and if you’ve donated, please do so. The site still operates at a loss, but the ads do help to pay the bills. Has HHR moved past a hobby into something almost a job? I don’t think I’d consider it that because I truly am not making a profit off of this, but I feel the same dedication to this site that I do to my job. This blog has lasted me through two college degrees, a handful of jobs, and a marriage, which unfortunately ended. It’s afforded me some incredible opportunities to hear stories directly from employees and from people I never thought I’d get to speak to. I’ve never been one for sentiments, but I have to say I truly appreciate my audience and the warm receptiveness you all bring. Between work and HHR, I don’t do too much else, so small vindications like comments or Facebook likes help keep me going, and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for y’all. So, on the 10th anniversary of HHR, please take a moment to thank yourself for sticking with me.


  1. I moved here almost 2 years ago and found this blog a little over a year ago when I came upon a dead mall (Greenspoint?) and wanted to research it’s history. I am so glad I found this blog and it has become a part of my routine. I am even proud of the very, very small contributions I have had (Wilcrest Foodarama). Thank you for all you do Mike, this site is a bright spot on the internet

  2. Happy blogiversary and, likewise, congrats on completing your master’s! Both are great accomplishments and I always enjoy reading your blog. I remember your flickr days and am glad you have continued in the hobby since then. It’s funny you mention HHR potentially feeling like a second job — I kind of noticed once I graduated and started working full-time that keeping up with my existing pace of flickr and blogging on top of that was way too much work in addition to, well, work itself, lol. I bring that up to say that I totally support your decision to go down from three posts a week, but even then, you’ve definitely been churning out content way more often than I have, and it’s always quality stuff. I plan to continue reading as long as you’re posting!

    1. Thank you on both accounts! Congrats on your recent graduation by the way! I enjoy your various blogs as well, and remember your Flickr days too! I always liked seeing what else was going on along the rest of the Gulf Coast, and Mid South region. I remember a great photo set you did of a shrinking Super Kmart, that never found a tenant on the other side, and was left open. I understand having to step back the pace a bit, and invite you to do so rather than experience burn out. I’ve been more careful about moderating how often I work on certain aspects of the blog to better deal with this. The same goes for you, as long as you’re still posting I’m reading! I’m also still checking Flickr now and then!

  3. First time commentator, long time reader. Great writing makes me come back and read. I see your passionate about this and your articles are always intriguing. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you for your kind words! It makes me quite happy to know that my passion is coming across, and interesting enough to bring people back.

  4. Congrats on the kind-of anniversary! There have been a lot of anniversary celebrations on various retail blogs here recently and I didn’t even know a big anniversary was coming up for HHR, but I’m glad to see it! I certainly enjoy posting guest blog posts here and reading all that you and the other guest bloggers put up.

    I know that running this site on your own WordPress server is certainly quite a hassle at times, but it certainly does give this blog a unique look. Anyway, here’s to many more years of blogging!

    1. Thank you, and thanks for you constant support of the blog! Honestly without you, and the rest of my inside supporters there would be no blog. I’m grateful to have your contributions, and friendship!