Minimax was a grocery franchise system with roots in Brenham, Texas. Unfortunately it’s difficult to find information online about the chain, and nearly impossible to find anything about it prior to expanding into Houston. Based purely off assumption they offered self-service dry goods and groceries likely starting in Brenham and a few other central Texas towns. The first Houston store opened December 18th, 1931. It was one of the first grocery stores in Houston to include specialty departments like a bakery, butcher, deli, and even a pharmacy which had a soda fountain.
The first Houston location was owned by E.A. Eversberg, who also held the national franchise rights to Minimax. The store was run by assistant manager C.T. Newton. As was customary at the time meat sales were handled by independent butchers, Moss and Foster, who were considered to be the premier butchers of Houston’s City Market moved their operations to the new Minimax. The pharmacy was also operated by an independent company, Austin Pharmacy, it seems that the pharmacy sublet some of their space to a barber shop. The Minimax and Meat Market were all in shared space, with the barber and pharmacy separate.
This new style of all in one grocery shopping managed to quickly win over customers who were used to shopping either in open air markets or small specialty shops. Convenience and availability during foul weather helped to drive the idea of combined grocery stores not only in Houston but throughout the U.S.. Self-Service grocery was already prevalent in other parts of the nation and was proving to be effective in Texas too especially with the expansion of Piggly Wiggly. Minimax continued to grow their stores throughout Houston and all of Texas.
Minimax continued to be the dominant leader in grocery throughout the 50s, when company owned supermarkets began to pop up in Houston. While Minimax had a much larger service area the difference in operations allowed huge price cuts. Minimax managed to hang on during the late 60s with Henke & Pilot being converting to Kroger, and Safeway beginning their first expansion. Minimax managed to survive until the 1980s, and some locations may have made it into the 90s. However, this was at a reduced presence compared to the statewide locations the chain had previously held. Many of the buildings still stand. However, very few if any still operate as full-fledged grocery stores. Mostly due to the small nature of the original Minimax locations.
As of 2018, most of Houston’s original grocery stores are remembered in some way. Weingartens continues to own and manage many of their former properties and the shopping centers they occupy. Henke & Pilot has become the name of a trendy Gastropub. While Minimax has been left to the wind. With only a single somber reminder. Minimax Drive, a road leading to the now demolished Distribution Center East of the also abandoned Northwest Mall.Error requesting data: cURL error 28: Resolving timed out after 5000 milliseconds