For our first store the vintage store #18 8130 Kirby Drive, near NRG Stadium. This is a vintage late 80's store with practically no remodel as of yet. This is one of the few stores that still have the full exterior signage with chasing lights and neon. As a bonus, all neon signage is still intact throughout the store. A lot of the neon reflects off of the shining floor which you can see here.
Nothing says 1980's like this neon. If only the inflation of 2022 had stayed away from this store like the bland design of modern Fiesta stores.
Coffee Bar is gone, but the signage remains.
So simplistic yet so awesome.
Even the areas without neon signage have the vintage look.
The Chinese food takeout counter.
Just keep scrolling and enjoy the neon. I am out of words for just how awesome it is.
Flags from around the world.
Even the checkout area has neon.
The "futuristic" frozen foods area. The dropped partitions make the area feel like a separate store.
The view from the back corner of the store to the other side of the store.
Sadly, some of the neon is not functioning. I hope this store doesn't get the bland remodel that has been going through the chain over the past few years. This is one of the few untouched stores from the 1980's.
The decor package of this store is very similar to the Market Basket in Orange Texas. The biggest difference is that the neon signage here is not in cursive.
This Fiesta is a gem, visit here before it is too late, and this store is remodeled.
Not Fiesta related, but this new cell phone camera takes excellent neon shots. The next Fiesta store is coming right up.
Now for the next store #8 2323 Wirt Rd. near Hempstead Highway. This store still had the chasing lights, but the logo appeared to be the new one. In this store, you will see a mix of old and new signage.
Lots of neon still going strong. Here is the seafood counter.
The produce department has the new design.
The Kmart style vents look strange in this store.
More of the newer designs.
Old signage to the left and new to the right.
The clothing department has the latest signage as well. From this view, it almost looks like a Kmart store. Also using the wide view lens on the new cell phone camera.
More of the wide view, looking at the front of the store.
A real treat, this sign has neon and chasing lights. The updated bakery signage is painted to the left, so I am glad this sign was still here.
A view of the neon Dairy department signage.
Looks like these Fiesta signs have the updated boring design.
In the future I will post the videos of these and more vintage Fiesta signs in action. The signage from inside and outside of the stores will be featured.
This is some great stuff! I have been waiting to see these Fiesta Mart photos of yours. I knew they would be good, but these photos are even better than I thought they would be! It looks like the new phone is a keeper as far as neon is concerned!ReplyDelete
The Wirt Rd. Fiesta Mart used to be the local Fiesta Mart for us prior to the opening of the FM 1960 W. Fiestas on Kuykendahl and then the Willowchase one. Thus, I've been in there several times, but I don't know if I've been there since the late 1980s or early 1990s. Back in those days, it still had the R2D2-like security cameras that the Gulfton area store still had until a year or so ago when it got renovated.
The Wirt location used to be a FedMart so that might explain why it looks more like a Kmart than a grocery store. I believe the South Loop Fiesta Mart near I-45 used to be a FedMart as well. So, yeah, it's a building with a lot of history and the neon there was very similar to the neon at a lot of the Fiestas that opened prior to the late 1980s suburban ones. I saw that Fiesta recently filed a permit application with the state to renovate the Wirt store so it's quite possible, if not likely, that all the vintage neon at this location is going away soon in that renovation. I'm glad you were able to capture this store before it potentially changed!
As for the Astrodome Fiesta, that used to neighbor a Kmart as you probably know. What a store, it looks great and the photos of it are great as well. I've been to that Fiesta before as well, but I probably was last there in around 2005. It really hasn't changed though. This store looked similar to the Kuykendahl location and it still looks similar to the Mission Bend Fiesta on Highway 6 in Ft. Bend County. Mike from HHR recently did a post about the old Target in that Mission Bend shopping center that Fiesta is in that is now a Giant $ store. The Giant $ store is the subject of Mike's post.
But, anyway, that Astrodome store is the definition of a late 1980s showpiece. The Orange Market Basket is pretty similar, but the Fiesta is way bigger. It felt very big for a supermarket in the 1980s. Even today, it still feels pretty big. I hope Fiesta does not renovate that store as although it looks very late 1980s-like, it still looks really awesome.
That Pilgrim Cleaners looks fantastic as well. Pilgrim is a long-standing operation in Houston, but the ones near here that are still around don't look anywhere as fancy as that neon store!
Anyway, it's great seeing these Fiestas and I'm looking forward to seeing more from your media collection of these stores. It'll be great to see that and it's great that you're documenting these stores before the potentially get renovations.
I am debating a revisit of your nearby Willowchase Fiesta to get a better view of the neon with the new phone. I really like how the new photos have turned out, even the video looks great without the blurring you would see on my old videos.Delete
I had only heard and read brief pieces of the history of FedMart. It is pretty cool that Fiesta was able to keep a lot of the details of the old store intact like the A/C vents and probably the low ceiling above the checkout area. I figured the Wirt Rd. store was something else in the past. It is sad that the store will probably go the route of the majority of the stores in the chain. I guess that means that the few remaining stores with some older signage mixed with the new will be changed as well.
The only remaining businesses with heavy neon will be the vintage style places in the trendy areas of Houston and chain restaurants. Even some of the chain restaurants are getting rid of neon now like Olive Garden.
I have made it my mission this year to cover what is left of the retro Fiesta stores in the Houston area. It is a much more manageable task than doing the work I did on the blog in the past.
I remember the Kmart on the other side of the shopping center near the Astrodome. Many years ago, I went down there in my search for baseball cards as well. The Toys R Us was where I wanted to go, and I visited the Kmart since it was across the street. Imagine travelling back to 1995 to see the vintage Toys R Us, Kmart, and Fiesta (Which thankfully hasn't changed much) in that area. Of course, back then the Astrodome was considered a huge venue.
Fortunately, the Willowchase Fiesta has not changed much since your last visit. I was there recently and it is business as usual over there. Perhaps Fiesta will keep that location, the Astrodome one, and the Mission Bend locations untouched while renovating the stores with the older style neon. I'm not sure though, I wouldn't count on that being the case so it's probably best to document (or redocument since I know you already photographed the Willowchase store) these stores while they still look like 1989!Delete
Fiesta Mart is currently in their 50th year so this is a good year to document the chain. They are one of the most famous Houston-based retail chains and, although they aren't locally owned anymore, they're still one of the more interesting local retail chains even if Fiesta isn't really building any new glitz-n-glamor locations anymore.
I made another round of Fiesta visits tonight including Willowchase. The neon sign at the Mykawa and I-610 was repaired and repainted so it looks awesome at the moment. The renovations have begun at Wirt Rd. as well, but so far only the front area near the checkouts is being renovated. I may have found all of the stores worth documenting, but I am continuing to look. I need to visit the remaining central locations near The Heights.Delete
Awesome, I look forward to seeing the photos from your recent Willowchase Fiesta visit. That should make for an excellent post. It's good to hear that the neon is surviving at the Wirt Rd. Fiesta for now. I'm hoping that will be the end result, but I guess we'll have to see how that develops.Delete
I made the rounds on Saturday night and went past the Fiesta locations I wanted to see. I was disappointed to see more Fiesta signage has been changed over. The West Mount Houston and Airline near West Rd. stores have the new signage. Airline and I-45 still has the awesome old school signage outside, but the interior of the store is completely remodeled. The North side inner city stores were not worth visiting in my opinion. The I69 store on the Northside still has a lot of interior neon and flashy signage even after the exterior signage was updated. I would say that this is the fourth best location in the area to visit after the OST, Westchase, and Willowchase stores.Delete
The Fiesta on West Mount Houston is one I am quite familiar with since I have been there a few times over the years. I remember when it was a Gerland's, but I've been there a few times since it became a Fiesta. Most of my visits there happened when I was returning home from visiting the Greenspoint Fry's Electronics store. It's quite a retro place, but aside from that, it's not a particularly impressive store. The store serve an important role in providing their communities with supermarkets, but those stores are nothing like the Wilowchase or Astrodome Fiestas.Delete
It's good to hear that the Eastex Fiesta is still pretty impressive. When you refer to the Westchase Fiesta, do you mean the Mission Bend one on Highway 6 & Bellaire Blvd.?
I wonder if the Fondren & W. Bellfort Fiesta Mart still has neon. That shopping center once had an early 1980s Target that eventually became a Kmart. You might remember that one. Kmart did basically nothing to the outside of the old Target so it really looked like a Kmart in a Target from the outside. I never went there so I don't know what the inside looked like, but it's hard to imagine that Kmart did much to change it since Kmart moved in in the 1990s when they weren't exactly giving their best effort in store decor.
Unfortunately, the Fiesta at Fondren & W. Bellfort has been remodeled as well. I passed by 4 or 5 Southwest area Fiesta stores when I started the focus on Fiesta Markets. I should have looked around a bit more but seeing the remodeled Fiesta stores took away any desire I had for looking at the rest of the nearby shopping centers. Westchase is the Mission Bend store, you are correct. I guess it took me seeing the I-69 Fiesta store losing the trademark neon and flashing light signage removed to finally motivate me to document these stores. It has been fun rediscovering Fiesta Markets.Delete
In other news, at Deerbrook Mall something is going on with the old Forever 21 store on the second floor. The store consolidated on the second floor about a year ago, then surprisingly moved back to the bottom floor. Now the second floor of the anchor is under construction, but there are no visible permits about a month into construction. I am not sure if this was already mentioned, but it is nice to see something new coming to the mall. Most of the front wall of the store which still had the Mervyn's bricks up to the right side entrance was torn apart. The modified entrance that Circuit City renovated no longer has the Forever 21 sign, but looks the same for now. Surprisingly the small Circuit City lettering under "The City" sign left a labelscar that is now visible. Sears is still vacant except for the yearly Spirit Halloween and Palais Royal is once again vacant after hosting a temporary store that moved into a permanent spot. Deerbrook needs some new life.
I wonder what might be coming to Deerbrook Mall. I have not heard any rumors about anything. I suppose we'll just have to keep an eye on that and see what happens. I wouldn't be surprised if Ollie's eventually moves into the Deerbrook area, but I would not expect them to be at the mall. Then again, who knows.Delete
There is some more Half Price Books news to report and it is related to Westchase. I saw a report the other day that HPB is moving into the old Westchase Mall shopping center. Although that report did not mention it, I would have to assume the HPB on Kirkwood is closing and moving to Westchase since the two locations are very close together and it wouldn't make sense for HPB to have two locations so close together. With the Westchase news, I find it odd that HPB just moved out of an old Weingarten mall at North Oaks and is now moving into another old Weingarten mall with Westchase.
In other HPB news, they are closing their location in San Marcos. They cited increases in rent and decreased store traffic. I guess the HPB shrink continues in Texas, but at least they are moving into a new location with the Westchase location even if that's just a move and not a completely new location. With all the HPB closures in the general region, I wonder if Books-A-Million might further expand 2nd & Charles in this region.
Also, 99 Ranch Market is moving into the old Westheimer Soft Warehouse/CompUSA/Goodwill Computer Works location. I'm guessing the old CompUSA building will be torn down and 99 Ranch Market will build something quite a bit larger. Fiesta is just down the road at Westheimer & Dairy Ashford with a pretty boring store by Fiesta standards (I went there a couple of years ago), but now they'll have to contend with new competitors with 99 Ranch Market and the Gordon Food Service store across the street in the old Goodwill location. Speaking of Goodwill, you might have noticed that over the last few years, they've closed quite a few locations in Houston and have turned some others into clearance stores.
This is a good year to document Fiesta Mart stores with it being their 50th anniversary. I just hope the aforementioned suburban Fiestas stay mostly untouched. They still look amazing even after all these years and should stay as showpieces of the glitz & glamor era of Fiesta.
For all we know, Sears Hometown could be moving to the space at Deerbrook Mall. With as strange as their business plan has been, this would not be a surprise. I think TJ Maxx and Homegoods or Zara are the realistic possibilities.Delete
HPB stores closing is not a surprise. I guess the Westheimer location will get a boost in sales at their new location. It is odd that they are moving into a shopping center with a similar history as North Oaks.
I read Mike's article about the Goodwill Computer shopping center changes.
We used to frequent that center for the sportscard store that moved a couple of blocks over. The first area Raising Cane's is across the street from that shopping center as well. That shopping center has been in poor condition for years, so it is finally getting some TLC.
I haven't seen any closures from Goodwill on this side of town yet, but after the pandemic I can see why. More people are scared of germs and old products don't exactly feel or smell clean. Some of their locations are in pricy shopping centers as well.
I passed by the spot for the old Auchan billboard, but I missed the sign. It may already be gone. The Fiesta on Edgebrook and I-45 has also had the new signage put up, yet another neon sign bites the dust. I wonder if they are going to remodel all of their stores for the anniversary and do a gran re-opening later this year. I forgot to mention that the I-69 North store now has the new LED light fixtures inside like you see at the Airline and Mesa Rd. stores.
Eddie Lampert is full of surprises so who knows, maybe the Humble Sears Hometown store will make the move from their small shopping center location back to Deerbrook Mall. I wouldn't expect that though as the shopping center location seems to be the right size for a Sears Hometown Store. That location in Humble seems to have better inventory than the two Sears Hometown stores in malls. That doesn't really make any sense as the mall locations are much, much larger, but we are talking about Eddie Lampert here, lol.Delete
One thing about the new Westchase Half Price Books is that it'll be half the size of the Kirkwood location. It seems that most of the recent HPB new locations are around 6-8,000 sq. ft. instead of around 15,000 sq. ft. like they used to use before. The old North Oaks location was even bigger than that and the Deerbrook store is probably the largest remaining HPB in Houston at this point. I'm not sure if everything will be downsized in these smaller HPBs or if they'll cut certain departments out. From what I can tell from other downsized HPBs in other states, they do still have music CDs and video games, but perhaps not as many of them.
Goodwill has turned a handful of previously regular Goodwill locations into 'buy clothes by the pound' clearance locations. In addition to that, some of the Goodwills I used to shop at have closed such as the 290 & W. 34th St. location and the one on 249 & Louetta. Goodwill had so many stores on the NW side at least around a decade ago that I'm not surprised that they had to close some locations. They were probably cannibalizing each other. Also, as you say, people might be leery of used products these days. The same thing is probably hurting HPB.
I'm not sure if the billboard with the Auchan logo is still up, but at least Mike got a photo of it. Hopefully he'll upload it to his blog one of these days so those who can't see the billboard in person can get a look at it.
It does seem that Fiesta is being pretty aggressive in remodeling their stores with the older versions of neon. This might be part of their anniversary plans as they are promoting their anniversary in their stores and in their marketing. Perhaps this is part of Fiesta's push to be relevant for another 50 years at least, but hopefully the suburban Fiesta stores like Willowchase which still have neon that looks good even in modern times will be allowed to keep their current decor.
Looks like the Hometown store experiment is ending at several locations. Pasadena, Cleveland, and the Parks at Arlington are all closing sometime in June along with several locations nationwide. Humble is not affected, but I am not sure about Willowbrook. I went to the Pasadena location yesterday and confirmed that the store is closing at the end of June. Several Facebook pages for the Hometown stores have closing sale announcements. There is no news about the Deerbrook Mall Forever 21 anchor renovations, but it looks like more work is being done inside of the store.Delete
I guess Half Price Books has to downsize their stores to survive. People just aren't buying a lot of physical media anymore with the exception of collector's items. Pokémon and Sports cards are what is hot right now with collectors, but Half Price Books is not where you will find those items. I think we are only just beginning to see the downfall of Half Price Books. Goodwill at least has the treasure hunt aspect of shopping in their stores, but there is only so many good items to go around.
I did finally see the Auchan billboard, it is a yellowish and rusting sign with the Auchan logo on the bottom left corner. There are some palm trees right in front of the sign.
Once I get some time, I will be uploading more Fiesta stores and making the Youtube video. I think I have all of the interesting stores covered.
Yes, I saw the news about the Pasadena Sears Hometown Store closing as well as a couple others elsewhere in Texas. I didn't know about the Cleveland and Arlington locations. I just did a little research and it seems League City and Cypress are also closing as well. I can't tell about Sugar Land. As of right now, it appears Humble and Willowbrook Mall are safe, but that surely must be a tenuous thing.Delete
The sad thing is that the Cypress, League City, and Cleveland locations are ones which had been around for a while. The latter two were formerly Sears Appliance Showroom stores that had been around for quite some time. I did recently drive past Willowbrook Mall and I noticed that Sears moved their Hometown sign from the corner of the store, where they initially installed the new sign, to above the arch in the entryway. That is a much better spot for the sign. If Eddie Lampert closes that store here soon, he will have certainly spent a lot of money for nothing putting up those new signs and then moving one of them! Also, that Willowbrook store building has been listed for being on sale since before the Hometown store opened so who knows how long that store might last even if sales there are good if the building gets sold.
It's not surprising to see these Sears Hometown Stores fail, but it's surprising that Lampert even bothered to open up all these stores just to close them down shortly afterward. I'm not sure if Eddie was hoping for a sales miracle or what. Given that Sears likely isn't even paying rent to operate the Pasadena store, sales must have been really poor there. Perhaps Lampert continues to struggle to get inventory and that might be behind some of the closures.
I'm glad you were able to see the Auchan billboard. Yep, that sounds like the one I saw. I'm surprised the billboard operator has left that sad looking sign up for several weeks now. Perhaps not too many companies are paying for billboards these days.
I saw that the Missouri City Fiesta in an old Food Lion and which still has Food Lion decor got the new LED lights, but no other updates that I could see. It's a bit strange seeing a Food Lion basically with modern LED lights!
I wonder how 2nd & Charles is doing these days given Half Price Books' problems. If BAM is doing well with 2nd & Charles, perhaps they can move into some of the areas being abandoned by Half Price Books.
To top off the issues at the Pasadena Sears, the salesclerk told me they had a break-in where items were stolen. The mall property really looks vacant these days, so it is no surprise that criminals are taking advantage of the emptiness. A police station is nearby, but that didn't make any difference to the criminals. It also looks like some homeless have setup outside of the old Macy's near some overgrown bushes.Delete
I was wondering about the Missouri City Fiesta. Photos have the store with the old sign, but I am not sure. It is a long journey with gas prices being what they are, but if there is a reason for me to go to this area, I will have to check out the store.
2nd and Charles steadily grew prior to 2020, but I am not sure if they have grown any more since 2020. I think their business model is a little better with more focus on video games and collectibles than Half-Price Books. They also don't have a massive movie and music section, only certain titles.
Cool stores and great photos!ReplyDelete
I appreciate the props. Many more to come as I have been running around and documenting these stores the past few months.Delete