Culture / Foodie Events

Texas’ Upscale Grocery Store Wars Take a Surprise Twist

You Won’t Believe What H-E-B Is Doing Now

BY // 01.15.16

Texas’ grocery store wars have resulted in a number of produce and protein palaces — mammoth stories tricked out with the latest and greatest (whether it’s a brewpub or an upscale restaurant). But one Texas supermarket chain is also suddenly jumping in the opposite direction.

It’s going smaller and taking aim at convenience stores like 7-Eleven.

H-E-B plans to open its first convenience store ever, in San Antonio. If successful, it’s easy to imagine this clearing the way for a chain of H-E-B convenience stores across the state. While H-E-B is going smaller, it’s not exactly going small by convenience-store standards. The new store will be 7,416 square feet in size, which would engulf your typical 7-Eleven store. (There’s already a full H-E-B grocery store that comes in at only 12,000 square feet in San Antonio, among the plethora of other H-E-B stores.)

The Texas-based grocery chain’s convenience store visions came out in building permits and licensing requests. Virtual Builders Exchange — a construction industry news site — first broke the news. H-E-B is declining comment for now.

The renderings submitted by the grocery giant show a building with distinctive splashes of red and ice machines lined up along its side. In a way, H-E-B’s continuing the Buc-ee’s trend of trying to make convenience stores more upscale. The San Antonio location is set to cost H-E-B more than $2.7 million to build.

It will probably be money well spent. It’s easy to imagine Texans latching onto H-E-B convenience stores, as well.

Anyone who’s spent much time on the East Coast can attest to the loyalty certain convenience stores can engender. Philadelphians love WaWa almost as much as they love cheesesteaks. And Texans’ loyalty to all things Texas can sometimes seem to border on religious fever (see the largely inexplicable cult of Whataburger).

Perhaps, the state’s great grocery store battle was bound to bleed into convenience stores at some point. As The Economist notes in studies, convenience store prices are consistently much higher than grocery store prices for the exact same products.

Even having your own brewery might not be able to top that.

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