Checkout lane: Officials with San Antonio-based supermarket chain H-E-B are being characteristically quiet about plans for mid-county developments. Texas City Mayor Matt Doyle is being characteristically blunt on the subject.
Readers this month have been ringing up rumors that H-E-B is shopping for sites near Gulf Greyhound Park, 1000 Interstate 45, in La Marque.
But H-E-B officials last week said there were no immediate plans for that site, nor were there for the 87,237-square-foot Palmer Shopping Center in Texas City.
H-E-B bought the shopping center in 2011 with plans for a new concept. H-E-B has been steadfastly silent, but employees of its existing Texas City store, 918 21st St. N., speculated the chain would open a relatively new no-frills concept called Joe V’s Smart Shop, known for low prices. Others speculated H-E-B would build a Mi Tienda, Spanish for “My Store,” which offers products favored by Hispanic shoppers.
H-E-B isn’t divulging plans for either Texas City or La Marque.
“Currently, there are no plans for either location,” said Cyndy Garza Roberts, director of public affairs for H-E-B.
Alex Getty, executive director of the Economic Development Corp. in La Marque, said Monday he had no more information about an H-E-B store near Gulf Greyhound Park.
Interestingly, Doyle, who rarely minces words, said he’d be fine with H-E-B opening a larger store with freeway visibility in La Marque, and shutting down the 21st Street store in his city.
“They need to close that piece of junk in Texas City and open something that’s not deplorable,” Doyle said.
Mainland and island residents have echoed Doyle’s sentiments. Mid-county residents want a bigger H-E-B, and some islanders want the grocer to return. H-E-B departed Galveston after Hurricane Ike in 2008.
Although H-E-B hasn’t opened any new concepts in Texas City, La Marque or Galveston, it has wasted no time in planning a second large store in League City.
In October, League City officials confirmed H-E-B had filed paperwork to build a 98,000-square-foot store on the southeast corner of League City Parkway and South Shore Boulevard. The proposed H-E-B would be directly across from Kroger, which is on the intersection’s northeast corner. The proposed H-E-B in League City would also include a gas station. H-E-B already operates a Bay Colony store at 2955 Interstate 45.
Grocer gossip: Meanwhile, in other supermarket speculation, discount grocer Aldi appears to be working its way south, shopping for sites in Texas City. Doyle confirms Aldi, which recently opened stores in Kemah and Webster, is considering opening one in the former City Café site at 33rd Street and Palmer Highway in Texas City.
No-frills Aldi, which is undergoing a major Houston-area expansion, sells only about 1,400 of the fastest-moving products, mostly under its private label and for prices 50 percent less than traditional supermarkets. Aldi credits efficiency for low pricing.
The grocer eliminates overhead cost by such practices as a cart rental system, through which shoppers insert a quarter to release a cart and receive the quarter back upon the cart’s return.
Other cost-saving practices include a smaller store footprint, open carton displays and encouraging customers to bring their own bags. Stay tuned.
Biz Birthday: Texas City’s Merle Norman Cosmetics and Boutique, 3224 13th Ave., is celebrating its 48th anniversary. Owner Jane Baucum has operated the business in Texas City the entire time. Her original customers are now bringing their granddaughters in for complexion and cosmetic care, Baucum said.
Coming soon: An old seawall property is getting a major makeover, and a downtown business is departing. Read more in Thursday’s Biz Buzz.
Laura Elder is a reporter for The Daily News. Biz Buzz appears Tuesdays and Thursdays. Email your tips and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.