Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fiesta Supermarket Northeast Houston Texas

Fiesta Supermarkets are located in mostly Southeast Texas in and around Houston. Fiesta Markets have tons of Neon and they are very bright. The supermarkets have many different foods from around the world, and even has a large clothing department. Fiesta also has outlets inside and outside of the store for retail and food outlets. Fiesta markets are very similar to the Schweggmann Giant Supermarkets that were all over New Orleans for many years until their closure in 1999. Many of the stores here still retain the same look and have not had major renovations and retain a 1980's look.


  1. Neon! Neat!

    For a blast to the past, visit VILLAGE FOODS in Bryan, Texas. It's a former AppleTree (and built as an AppleTree, too), and has all sorts of interesting features, including a mirrored lobby, wood paneling, and red neon signs for various departments.

    It's a welcome change from the HVAC-laden ceilings of the modern grocery stores and the Southwest Parkway Kroger (which, unfortunately, "de-Greenhoused" the store without updating it, it's still dirty and dated. It also kind of resembles the Montrose Kroger on the inside, at least in terms of decor)

  2. The good thing is that all Fiestas still have some neon signage that is well maintained. Some locations even still have the wood paneling that was popular during the 1970's and 1980's retail designs. Most of the other Supermarket chains here in Houston are vanilla with boring modern designs. I will get more Fiesta stores in the future as time permits. I am about to upload a huge post on the PlazAmericas Mall with photos of the cinema that is under construction and the new Mercado which has just opened.

  3. what a nightmare to find the weekly ads.-

  4. I think it is impressive how Fiesta has maintained the vintage look of many of their stores including their larger stores in more affluent areas. The Willowchase Fiesta in Houston at the intersection of FM 1960 and 249 is an excellent example of a store that has been virtually untouched since it opened 20+ years ago and yet still looks quite impressive even without looking from the perspective of vintage-loving eyes. The store was built in ~1989 and literally the only changes that I can tell have been the conversion of the refreshment area near the produce section into a culinary school and the tiling of the produce department instead of the former carpet (which was an odd choice to begin with). Maybe some of the international food aisles have been modified a bit, but that is the extent of the changes unless something drastic has happened since the last time I was at this store a couple months ago. The store still has lots of neon (or which ever noble gasses are used to create the various colors), but perhaps it is a bit more restrained than the Fiesta depicted here. The store still looks very modern and clean even with the lack of changes. I'd certainly take that Fiesta over the hideous designs and layouts that H-E-B is using these days.

    Fiesta's are certainly an odd mix of mega supermarkets and smaller stores that are not flashy at all and generally focused on lower income Hispanic shoppers, but those smaller stores are still very vintage and usually pretty clean as far as I can tell.

    Anyway, I thought that it is interesting that Grocers Supply, who has owned Fiesta for quite a while now, is buying the Gerland's Food Fair chain and the FoodTown stores that Gerland's owned. Apparently a large number of FoodTowns are still owned by the Lewis family. It does not sound like GS plans to make any major changes to the Gerland's stores. I think Gerland's and Fiesta sell a lot of the same stuff with Parade brand products and stuff like that so there should not be any huge changes as far as I can tell. Gerland's may not be a huge player in the Houston grocery market these days, but they still have some power and they have been around for such a long time that I think this is a newsworthy event.

    FoodTown locations are quite interesting as they often retain the look of the grocers that used to operate out of their stores. The Jones Rd. and West Rd. FoodTown still looks quite a bit like a Food Lion (though they recently painted over the Food Lion wall photo tiles of food in each department that were fading and often out of place), the FM 529 and Hwy. 6 store still looks quite a bit like an Albertsons, and the Cypress-N-Houston and Huffmeister store still looks quite a bit like a Safeway from their earlier attempt at the Houston market. Of course, I think there is at least one Fiesta that looks like a Safeway too. It is interesting to me that a lot of those Spanish tile facade Safeways have lived on mostly intact with various retailers around town including FoodTown obviously.

    Anyway, some of those FoodTowns may be Lewis owned and some may be Gerland's owned FoodTowns. I'm not sure. I have not been in a Gerland's Food Fair in quite a long time so I'm not sure what those look like now. I think there is an operational Food Fair on FM 1960 and Ella.

    1. Yes there are at least a couple Fiestas operating in former Safeway stores many on the Southwest side. I can't think of any Fiestas that have had major renovations at all. They must make good money because they always are busy at least when we go. I have a post coming up soon from the I-10 East near Federal Rd. Fiesta that has an old school look as well.

      Foodtown stores do seem to keep the look of the former stores they operate out of. I am not too familiar with Gerlands though, I have never lived near one. I have seen a few around town but never went and the same goes with Rice supermarkets I have never been to one of those either.

  5. Fiesta has found a very successful niche selling international foods in Houston. Some of the smaller stores are mostly Hispanic serving, but the larger stores have a lot of Asian and Caribbean food as well. They also have pretty decent prices on typical grocery fare so that helps too.

    The one Safeway-Fiesta that I know of is on Bellaire. Someone posted pictures of the store on the outside and inside a few years back and at least then it still looked very much like a Safeway. It even still has the one-way mirrors that I guess are part of the upstairs offices. At least I think that is what those are. The grocery store in the sitcom Mama's Family had those, but perhaps I should not base my retail knowledge on Mama's Family!

    There is a Fiesta on Wirt Rd. that we used to go to before the Willowchase and the Kuykendahl and FM 1960 (long since closed) Fiestas opened. I believe that Fiesta used to be a FedMart. Anyway, it used to have those R2D2 or disco ball looking security cameras the last time I went there ~<1989. I'm not talking about the semi-spherical cameras that some stores have today. These things were massive. Surely Fiesta has gotten rid of those by now, but I don't know. Otherwise, yeah, Fiesta stores are time capsules.

    But, yeah, those aren't the only former Fiestas that retain the Safeway look. I mentioned the FoodTowns earlier. There are a couple of former Safeways that are Family Thrift Centers that are like the Fiesta linked above. Both of the ones that I know about are in former Kmart shopping centers: the Bear Creek Kmart center and the 249 and Bammel-N-Houston former Kmart center. Both of these Family Thrift Centers have the one-way mirrors too I believe.

    There's only one Rice left I believe. The other remaining stores are or will be turned into The Fresh Market stores. At least some of the Rice Epicurean stores looked like Safeways as well, but they may have been renovated significantly on the inside. I don't know if The Fresh Market retains that look though. There was briefly a Rice Epicurean in the late 1990sish at FM 1960 and Champions Forest Dr., but that did not last long and I believe the store was converted into a Container Store.

    Gerland's Food Fairs were quite popular here on the NW side once upon a time. There was one on 249 just north of Willowbrook Mall (near the DQ) that closed in the mid-1990s and remains empty, one on Huffmeister and Fleur De Lis Blvd. that moved to the former Safeway on Huffmeister and Cypress-N-Houston when AppleTree left. That one was converted to a FoodTown. The old Fleur De Lis store was converted by Gerland's after Food Fair moved into something called a Simple Saver. It was kind of like an extreme no-frills discount grocery store where you had to pay for the paper/plastic bags and stuff. That did not last long and I believe the store is now a USPS sorting center or something like that. There was one on FM 529 and Hwy. 6 that is now a 24 Hour Fitness. That may have been a former Safeway before as well, but if it was, it must have been built after Safeway stopped using the Spanish tile facades. I do remember that store having a very late 1980s look with lots of neon. That store must have closed around the time that Wal-Mart left that shopping center.

    Anyway, there are still a few Food Fairs around, but it looks like FoodTown may have been Gerland's main brand at this point. I think they also had something called The Grand Market near Sugar Land that may have been a more upscale store, but I think that has closed now. I remember that Gerland's was one of the first stores to adopt the savings card concept that Kroger and Randall's still use, but I don't know if Food Fairs still use those. FoodTowns certainly don't and I consider that a good thing.

    1. Fiesta had two large stores close on 1960 that were only open a few years, one is still abandoned at Kuykendahl (mentioned above) and the other one in Humble that was an Academy and Ross. The one in Humble is now a large liquor store, Baskin's, and Ross. It looked like the Kuykendahl location was being remodeled for a new store about 5 years ago, but nothing ever opened in the space. Another grocery store that I was surprised to hear was in Houston at one time is Winn Dixie. I am not sure where any of the locations were, but I read that a few were in South Houston in the 1980's. We do have a great selection of grocery stores in the Houston area to choose from, but I still think our retail selections are limited. There are so many discount and department store chains that are located in other areas of the United States, but Houston seems to be last in line for many retail companies. Retail and restaurant companies seem to love opening their first Texas stores in the Dallas area, and bypass Houston or wait for several years to expand to Houston. Belk and In and Out Burger are two examples of this trend, but there are many others.

  6. Part I:

    I did not know that Winn-Dixie had stores in Houston. I guess I never knew about that because their stores were on the South side. I don't know. Do you have any other information about those W-D stores? Did they operate under the W-D name or did they have some other, lesser known or local name? For example, Grand Union came to Houston by buying Weingarten's and using their name in the early 1980s. Weingarten's was a major force at the time, but things fell apart quickly for them. Also, Lucky Stores used the Eagle Supermarkets name in Houston.

    You're right about the FM 1960 and Kuykendahl Fiesta not lasting very long. My guess is that the Willowchase Fiesta took away a lot of their customers. That was the case with us at least. I think Randall's moved into that location very briefly after Fiesta left. Perhaps Randall's moved from the FM 1960 and I-45 location to there, but I'm not sure if that timing is correct. That location may have been a Woolco way back when as well. That intersection has been a retail graveyard though. Kmart and Hobby Lobby have also closed up there over the years. I know the construction of the Kuykendahl underpass hurt the retail there for a few years, but it has been a retail graveyard before and after that underpass was built. There was also a Checker's burger stand in front of that Fiesta for a few years in the early 1990s, but that has been torn down and I guess Rally's/Checker's left Houston.

    Did you ever visit the former Fiesta near I-45 and NASA Rd. 1? That was probably Fiesta's showcase store. It was 236,000 sq. ft. and had 185,000 sq. ft. just for groceries. It's most remarkable feature, aside from the size I suppose, was the large indoor hydroponic garden that it had. Supposedly this store was considered a visitor's attraction. There's a great story about the store here.

  7. Part II:

    Dallas does get somethings before Houston, but not everything. H-E-Bs are still rare in the Metroplex and I know a lot of people up there aren't happy about that. Personally, I don't get all the hype about H-E-B, but some people really love them. Also, Dallas never had an Auchan. Granted, Chicago was the only other US city to get an Auchan and the Chicago store only sold groceries. Auchan, at least the original one on the Beltway, was a really interesting store even compared to modern supercenters. It was a huge store to begin with with lots of registers, but it also had a mall-like food court with several big name fast food vendors and a large mall-like retail area that was leased out to various businesses. Wal-Mart and some Fiestas have these too, but those are much smaller than what Auchan had. We were also first to get Wal-Mart Supermercado and Mas Club stores.

    Houston was early to get retailers like Kmart and Target back in the day, but it (like all of Texas I suppose) is a difficult market to master. On the one hand, it is easy to enter this market. Prime retail real estate is easy to find and numerous due to the freeway feeder system and things like that. Also, there aren't a lot of zoning battles and stuff like that especially in the suburbs, but on the other hand, those factors mean that the competition is generally fierce and numerous. Companies that want to gamble can make it big in Texas, but companies have to make sure that they can offer something unique in some way or else they will quickly become roadkill here. It may make sense to test the market in one area first to see if there is a chance of succeeding instead of going all in and finding out that it was a crippling mistake like Venture found out. I suppose the Metroplex is often the guinea pig.

    The lack of large scale discounters in the area is disappointing, but it isn't all that different elsewhere. We don't have Kmart anymore, but that isn't unprecedented these days. The "Big 3" really dominate the discount scene. There are a few areas that have regional discounters like the Pacific Northwest has with Bi-Mart and the upper Midwest has with Meijer, but most regional discounters have faded away as well. There is Alco as an alternative here in Houston though I suppose. Have you tried them yet? I heard that they moved thier headquarters from Kansas to the Metroplex lately so maybe we will see more Alcos in Houston and Texas as a whole. Of course, Alco mainly specializes in rural stores so we'll see how they make the urban transition.

    Perhaps one reason why the smaller, independent grocery stores do as well as they do in Houston is because Grocers Supply is able to provide goods to stores like Sellers Bros. at good prices. That said, I do wonder what those store owners think about GS buying Gerland's. It must be a bit frustrating for your supplier to be one of your biggest competitors! OTOH, GS buying Fiesta a while back and Gerland's now ensures that GS holds a sizable chunk of the Houston market and that ensures that their buying power is high. That may benefit everyone who uses GS. Also, a lot of the independent grocers are in highly Hispanic serving areas and it seems like GS is capable of delivering products targeted to those demographics at decent prices.

    1. I will look for some archives to see if I can find the Winn Dixie locations, I read one article that talked about Houston and Safeway that mentioned Winn Dixie. Out of the 4 shopping centers at 1960 and Kuykendal only one seems to have stayed mostly full, the one on the southeast corner that had the Warehouse Music. I have never been to that Fiesta but it looks interesting. As far as Alco, the Gessner store has very little to offer besides clothes. I think it is a clearance center now because nearly every price tag had a clearance sticker. Most of the departments I saw goods for in their online ad were not in the store and the store was nearly empty in several areas. There were very few people there besides us the evening we went. Maybe the Pasadena location is better. I almost forgot about Ventures failed expansion here in Texas. Maybe we are seeing the end of every other discount retailer not named Walmart or Target. If we lose another department store chain in Houston those spaces will likely stay empty for a while unless a new company comes here. Grocers supply is a good company that helps all sized grocery stores with products. There are also a bunch of smaller grocery stores like La Michoacana that are good for quick shopping trips but the prices can be slightly higher than a larger store.

    2. You're right about the shopping center at the SE corner of Kuykendahl and FM 1960. That center seems to be doing the best out of the four centers at that intersection. That center has a bit of an odd design as it has a regular shopping center in the front and then an office/retail complex directly behind it. There is an appliance store in that center, but I'm not sure if it is the same appliance store that was there years ago. I also remember there being a Bookstop at that center, but that is long gone by now. That center used to also have an unmanned Exxon "Express" gas station that did not have any attendants. That was torn down around the time the underpass was built. That center also has a store called The Breastfeeding Shoppe. That has to be the oddest store on all of FM 1960!

      That NASA Road 1 Fiesta store has been closed for a long time now I think, but it would have been interesting to see.

      It is sad to hear about the Gessner Alco store. It wasn't a clearance store when I went there last year and they had all the stuff in the ad. Granted, it wasn't busy when I went there last year nor has the parking lot ever been busy when I drive by it so I am not surprised to hear that the store is in a bit of a sad condition. Perhaps that store is going out of business? Then again, I saw a sign there the last time I drove by 3-4 weeks ago saying "Now Open." Who knows. Maybe the Pasadena store is in better shape, but I don't know.

      I think Macy's and Dillard's are in good shape. I would not expect them to go anywhere anytime soon. Sears and JC Penney are a bit more questionable and I think you're right to say that those stores may become dead anchors if they ever close. I suppose one alternative would be if a mall wants a Nordstrom or something like that and offer JC Penney or Sears a lot of money for their anchor spot. We know Sears has been open to those proposals and supposedly JC Penney has been looking to raise money through their real estate holdings as well. Perhaps Sears or JC Penney closing would open the door for someone like Belk, but I don't know. It seems like clothing retailers like Kohl's are having success with non-mall locations.

      Yeah, I think you're also right about the discount store game being dominated by Target and Wal-Mart. Kmart has a presence, but they are a long ways off from the other two of the "Big 3" and nobody else even comes close on a national scale. Supposedly stores like Dollar General and Family Dollar are carving out a niche in the discount market for themselves, but those stores aren't quite the same as a Kmart or Target. It would be great if we could get something like a Shopko or some other store like that, but I don't think Texas is even on their radar. There are parts of the country like the Midwest where there is a lot more discount store competition than there is here, but that is a bit of an anomaly. Perhaps the Midwest has a bit of a discount store tradition (Target, Kmart, Meijer, Venture, Ayr-Way, Pamida, Shopko, and even Alco all came from the Midwest) that I suppose does not exist in Texas.

      Mass merchandising department stores were the same way with three main competitors, but now only Sears is left. Oddly enough, all three of those companies had/have experience in discounting. Penney's had The Treasury, Ward's had Jefferson Ward, and Sears has Kmart.

      Venture came to Texas with their own distribution center and a lot of new stores built from scratch. That cost them big-time when the stores weren't very successful. You could even say that it was a fatal blow for the company. That's probably at least part of the reason why other retailers take a wait and see approach to Texas. Stores in Dallas may be logistically easier to stock than they would be in Houston due to their location and perhaps the less diverse population of the Metroplex may make it easier for some types of retailers.

    3. The Venture website is still available by archive at http://deadmalls.com/archive/www.venturestores.com/
      I would "Venture" to say that the expansion took away needed cash from the company and was listed as one of the causes for their demise. Speaking of companies that closed; Montgomery Ward sends out catalogs if you sign up on their website, but it is only Montgomery Ward's name not the former company. Service Merchandise is also online by name only. I remember the Service Merchandise on 1960 that was in the shopping center where Randall's and Sun and Ski Sports is that moved to 1960 and 249. I wonder if they had survived the early 2000's if the company would be successful today. Once they got rid of their electronics and toy departments I knew they were done. If they were still around today, they may have been able to compete directly with Best Buy if they had kept the electronics section. I think that Best Buy should add more departments similar to what Service Merchandise had minus the jewelry section and they will make the most out of the large store spaces. The larger appliance sections is a start, but I hardly ever see anyone looking around in that area.
      Belk seems the most likely target to come to the Houston market because they expanded to Nacogdoches and Lufkin, but that was over 5 years ago. I am hoping they will arrive here someday and give us more variety in department store chains. Von Maur may be another one here in the future because they have been expanding outside of their central US area and opened up in Atlanta.

    4. Part I:

      The current Service Merchandise website is actually owned by the guy who ran the Service Merchandise stores. I guess you can say that it is a variation of the original company, but certainly it feels much, much different than the old catalogs and catalog showrooms. You would think that Service Merchandise and other catalog-type stores would have had a major leg up in Internet retailing, but that never really worked out. Heck, Sears was a major investor in Prodigy back in the early 1980s and that still did not give them much (or any) edge in online sales.

      I remember the old Champions Forest Service Merchandise quite well. I believe that was a Wilson's before Service Merchandise brought out that chain. Wilson's was a similar type of catalog showroom store. That location has been a Stein Mart for several years now. We purchased a lot of stuff at that Service Merchandise over the years. Mainly audio equipment, but we brought a lot of other electronic stuff from Service Merchandise after they moved to FM 1960 and 249.

      Service Merchandise might have been able to survive til today, but it would have been tough. The electronics business is tough these days as people buy a lot of that kind of stuff online and also people don't buy as many camcorders, cameras, and stuff like that these days with phones having those capabilities. Even things like Blu-Ray players and audio components are slow movers compared to VCRs and stereos in the 1990s. Kohl's, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Macy's, and others would have been tough competition in the housewares sector, and Wal-Mart is always tough competition in toys. I think they could have survived if they did a better job with their marketing though. It just seemed like a lot of people didn't know that Service Merchandise even existed even though they sold good stuff at pretty good prices. I think the catalog showroom was a good idea though even if the idea has failed many times over.

      Speaking of Service Merchandise, are you familiar with the story behind the Best Products store that was near Almeda Mall? If not, you might want to watch this video (it's a 3 part video with the links to the other parts on the link itself, but the Almeda store is discussed around 1:45 in the linked part) about the design of the store and other similar projects Best did. That building still exists, but the facade has been removed and the building has been fenced off.

    5. Part II:

      I think Best Buy focusing on appliances might be a good idea. Appliances don't have the "showrooming" problem where people try out products at Best Buy and then buy the stuff at Amazon.com or other online stores. Then again, Best Buy has always been a relatively minor player in the appliance game and Consumer Reports rated Best Buy almost dead last as a major and small appliance retailer in this month's issue. Sears may have a troublesome reputation for customer service in recent years, but it seems that Best Buy may be even worse and it's not like consumers perceive Best Buy to be healthy either. Plus, they don't have the Kenmore name to help boost themselves.

      I believe the current Montgomery Ward is owned by the Swiss Colony outfit that operates several catalogs. Didn't Wards sell Swiss Colony cheese boxes way back in the day? I seem to remember that, but I could be way off on that. Anyway, there was a story some years back that Swiss Colony would bring back some of Montgomery Ward's private label brands from the retail store era. I'm not sure if they ever did that. I ought to check their website and maybe subscribe to their catalog. It's not the same, but at least they use a variation of my favorite Montgomery Ward logo!

      As for Venture, yeah, I think you're right. They spent all their money on Texas, but that did not work out and they did not have money left to invest in the markets where they had a chance to survive. Thanks for the link to the archive. You can actually get archived views of most websites at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Just type in an address at that site (like wards.com), select a date that they have archived, and you can see what was on their site back then. The site is a bit buggy though so don't expect perfection.

    6. Thanks for the Service Merchandise info, I did not know the site was managed by the previous owner. I used to always find deals on video games in their stores and purchased several Casio watches from Service Merchandise back in the day. I remember Wilson's when I lived in Louisiana and they also had small clothing sections if I remember right. Many of the former Wilson's stores did not get much of a remodel after Service Merchandise took over those stores. Over the last year or so the Internet archive wayback machine no longer has some sites available. I guess some of the larger companies do not want people to look at historical web designs.

  8. I used to get the Service Merchandise catalog every year when they still mailed those out. It wasn't as big as the Sears catalogs and stuff like that, but it was still pretty huge. They had all kinds of things in there. I also used to get the Best and Houston Jewelery catalogs back when they had a Service Merchandise-like catalog showroom type operation going. I held on to the 1995-96 Service Merchandise catalog for many years, but I don't know what happened to it. It may have accidentally ended up in the garbage can or something.

    I actually have some stuff with Service Merchandise sales tags on them on my desk here and in the bookshelf behind me. I don't know why this is on my desk, but I have a baseball from the late 1980s in the cardboard box it came in that was from there. I also have two boxes (one opened, one unopened) of 5.25" DS-DD Verbatim IBM formatted floppy disks from Service Merchandise. Each disk holds a whopping 360K! Apparently these were $4.84 for 10 disks back when I brought them. I'm guessing that was around 1993 or so. That wasn't a bad price back then actually! I also have a box of Memorex DS-HD 5.25" disks from Kmart that I brought on clearance back in 1996 I'm thinking. The funny thing is that it has a promotional sticker on the box for a free $5 AT&T phone card with the purchase of 4 boxes of disks. The expiration date for the promotion was 3/31/1994! That means these disks were probably sitting on the shelf at Kmart for at least 2 years, but probably 3 years. Well, they were on clearance ($3.24 for 10 disks) and it was probably pretty hard to move 5.25" disks at that point in time so I guess I'll cut Kmart some slack!

    I also have a Pioneer 6-disc CD changer magazine on my shelf that I got from Service Merchandise around 1989 to go with the Teac 6-disc CD player that we got there in 1989 also. I still have that CD player and it still works beautifully. Anyway, the price tag on the magazine says it cost $5.94. The same magazine in the 1989 Radio Shack catalog is $17.95! Oddly enough, Radio Shack is still in business and Service Merchandise is long gone. I guess low prices aren't everything!

    The Web Archive is really buggy. It always has been. Sometimes it says it has a website from a particular date, but it does not work when you click on the link. You just have to play around with the dates to find one that works. There may be some sites that are totally deleted, but most of the retail sites that I have tried have worked one way or another.

  9. Wow most of those discs will not work in computers past 2005 or so unless the computer was customized. I don't know if I have any boxes with prices tags anywhere, but I do have some receipts from the early 2000's when some of those stores were closing.
    I don't know how Radio Shack was able to survive for so long with so many stores. I guess they make a huge profit off of each sale so they were able to make it that way. Now half of the store is devoted to cell phones and accessories, so they have a better business plan than before.

    1. 5.25" floppy disks essentially became obsolete when the 3.5" "floppies" started to become popular. The 3.5" disks held slightly more, were smaller, and more durable due to the hard case they were in. 5.25" drives were still commonplace through the 486 era (perhaps so users could read their old disks), but they fell out of favor quickly after that. That's probably how I got those disks so cheaply because 3.5" HD disks were still about $1/each in the mid-1990s. I still have an operational computer with a 5.25" DS-HD floppy drive. It's a computer that I assembled myself back around 2000-01 with one of the ultimate oddball CPUs, the VIA Cyrix III at 600MHz. The drive itself is probably from the early 1990s. I tried to put that drive in other computers back around 2001, but that was the only computer whose BIOS would even recognize a 5.25" drive. I still have a lot of my old 5.25" disks from the 1980s and early 1990s. I'll probably never go through those files, but at least I can if I want to!

      I look at Radio Shack as being an electronics convenience store. Their prices are usually either "meh" or outrageously high, but it is the place to go to if you need a cable or diode in a jiffy. Cell Phones are their specialty these days, but I guess I can't blame them. Not too many people are interested in buying new capacitors for their malfunctioning TVs these days and rocking stereo systems, a middle class living room staple for a few decades, are now a thing of the past. Most people don't care about hi-fi audio. They are content with their iPod docks and stuff like that. I think RS only sells one receiver in their stores these days (a pretty basic model at that) and I don't even know if they still sell speakers. RS has been trying to reconnect with the hobbyists somewhat the last couple of years so maybe there is some hope there. Hopefully RS can stay in business and be the A/V club dream place again. Those were profitable days for RS way back when. There is a website that has almost every RS yearly catalog scanned until they stopped printing them.

      Speaking of RS, I believe the Tandy Leather store on FM 1960 near I-45 is still there. That was the same Tandy that brought out RS, but they sold their non-electronic companies long ago.

      Did you read this story this week about how Best Buy plans on giving store space to Microsoft to essentially run a store within a store? Could this be successful or is a Microsoft-Best Buy combo a recipe for disaster that even Ron Johnson would laugh at?

      As for the catalog showroom stores, I wrote very briefly about Houston Jewelry in my last post. It had been years since I last thought about them so I did some research and found some interesting stuff about them. They are still in business, but just as a jeweler these days. They have a very honest company history page that does not try to sugarcoat the facts behind the demise of their catalog showroom. They come right out and say that Sam's was selling electronics for less than they were paying to buy them. They also call out Gordon's and Zales for allegedly lobbying for favorable laws way back when. Interesting stuff! They also have links to some historical photos of their stores. I also came across this very interesting article from back when Service Merchandise was teetering about their business model and how Houston Jewelry could have been a model for them.

  10. There's been a tremendous amount of buzz about the Houston supermarket scene this week. I believe The Fresh Market opened their first location in Houston this week, I believe the Sprouts on FM 529 and Hwy. 6 is opening this week (in the old Randall's), and Fiesta opened their new Fiesta Market Place near Sugar Land (in an old Gerlands that might have been the Gerlands Grand Market) today. In fact, the Sprouts and The Fresh Market openings might have been today as well.

    The Houston Chronicle has some photos of the new Fiesta Market Place. What I found to be rather odd was the logo on the front of the store. Is that a new logo that Fiesta is using or is that a logo that they will only use on Market Place stores? It's an ok logo, but it certainly does not have the flair of the regular Fiesta logo. I guess Fiesta is still using their regular logo elsewhere because I saw it on their ad and on their website. Perhaps Fiesta wants to make it clear that this store isn't your typical highly Hispanic serving Fiesta store, but they've had and have other stores in more affluent areas with their regular logo.

    Well, anyway, the store is no where near as interesting looking inside as the one you photographed for this page. That said, it looks pretty nice I guess. It does look much better than something like an H-E-B. Of course, that isn't saying much as most H-E-Bs have the decor of a Jiffy Lube. It seems that the Fiesta Market Place has the first Caribou Coffee store in Texas. Perhaps that will be good news for someone. It also seems that Fiesta is planning a new store for Conroe, but I don't know if that will be a Market Place store, a regular more affluent Fiesta, a very Hispanic area serving smaller Fiesta, or what.

    But, yeah, it is exciting times for Houston grocery store watchers.

  11. As for the Fiesta store in Sugarland, wow what a bland decor for a Fiesta. I hope that they do not remodel all their stores like this one. I like the older look that most of their stores still have. It seems that grocers are starting to put Houston on their map for growth and hopefully retail and restaurant chains that are not here yet will begin to expand here instead of just going to Dallas.

    1. It sounds like you are saying that the new Sugar Land Fiesta should have been called a Siesta! I don't think it looks bad for a modern grocery store, but it is boring compared to older Fiestas in more affluent areas. I suppose even the less affluent area Fiestas may have more character (or at least retroness) than this Fiesta Market Place store. I do find it interesting that Fiesta's website shows a photo of their Willowchase/Willowbrook area store and not one of their newer stores. Maybe I'm inferring too much from that photo, but maybe even they think that the older stores look better or more interesting at least. The interesting thing about the Willowchase Fiesta is now nice a ~25 year old store looks even without any sort of major renovation. I think even someone without retro-loving eyes would find that store to be nice looking. I suppose that could be said about some other Fiestas as well.

      Yes, the Houston grocery game is really heating up. Hopefully all the new and existing stores will be able to survive and thrive in Houston, but history tells us that there will be some losers as the result of those boom. We'll have to see which stores are able to compete and which aren't.

      A couple of interesting points about a lot of these new stores is that a lot of them are smaller format stores compared to what the existing grocery powers have. Also, Aldi aside, a lot of the new grocery stores in town (as well as the Sugar Land Fiesta Market Place) are recycling old grocery store locations. I think that is a good thing. Hopefully it will help sustain older shopping centers. I would say that Sprouts and The Fresh Market attract slightly more affluent shoppers than some other grocery stores. Perhaps that could have a positive impact on other stores in their shopping centers. It's hard to say for sure, but perhaps using older buildings will be less risky for these chains new to Houston.

      Here are pictures of one of the new Fresh Markets and here are pictures of the FM 529 and Hwy. 6 Sprouts. I'm not a huge fan of the open ceilings, but oh well I guess. I have been to the Spring-Cypress and 249 Sprouts a few times (it looks pretty similar to the Hwy. 6 one in the pictures) and it's ok. There is a bit of an odd and mildly unpleasant odor I noticed in that store, but I'm not sure what it is. It's pretty nice otherwise. It does get pretty crowded, but maybe that's just because the store is fairly new. We'll have to see if they can sustain the crowds.

    2. I did see a Sprouts under construction on Westheimer recently next to the Half Price Books between Hwy 6 and the Beltway. I am glad to see what it will look like inside, I think it is a good concept if they are getting items that are getting items that are fresher than your typical store. There are not many grocers that have lasted in Houston for a long period of time. One of the reasons behind this is that grocers such as Kroger and Walmart have too many stores in the market and would rather flood the market with stores than allow a competitor to gain ground.

  12. we need a fiesta store in our town very much . we only have 3 groc. store in this town of Livingston tx . and when you go to store everything is picked our or sold out it terrible . can anyone help

    1. Fiesta sadly does not add stores very often. The best chance would be to try lure Aldi to the area. Walmart, Brookshire Brothers, and HEB are not much to choose from so I understand your pain. Not a lot of grocers want to compete with Walmart which makes it difficult to attract more grocers to the area.