Outside of North Texas, there’s nothing unusual about making a quick run to the H-E-B. That’s just what you do if you need a gallon of milk or a pack of tortillas on the way home.
But that wasn’t an option in the Dallas-Fort Worth area until Wednesday, when H-E-B opened its first store in the Metroplex.
There was great fanfare for the first day at the Frisco H-E-B, complete with a drumline, streamers and arena music. Maria Halkias, retail reporter for The Dallas Morning News, spent the day there. She spoke to the Texas Standard about the scene. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: So what was it like being in Frisco for the opening of the first H-E-B in the Metroplex? I guess this was an historic event.
Maria Halkias: It had like a Black Friday flavor to it because there were 1,500 people in line by 6 a.m., and it took 24 minutes for them to file in all through the day. I left at 11:00 and the checkout lanes were still all the way to the back of the store and they were all working.
Do retail experts in other parts of the country realize that something is going on here in Texas with H-E-B?
They do. There are a couple other strong regional grocers, but H-E-B – 20 years ago when they went into Houston – they didn’t quite have the reputation that they have now. And I think their private label foods are what I was hearing from people yesterday. They all had things that they were going to come in for and then H-E-B really kind of cultivates that. They come here with their first store, so they put out a DFW coffee and their sushi department came up with the DFW roll and the Red Pegasus roll to cultivate this excitement.
But I’m curious, why has it taken so long, given its reputation, for H-E-B to finally move into North Texas? Where have you guys gone to get your stuff until now?
And I think that’s why there were 1,500 people in line and it’s probably going to be very busy for a while. There was like this fear of missing out. You know, Dallas, there are six or seven H-E-Bs around the south and west perimeter, way out around DFW, that have been there for a while. But inside, we had six Central Markets. We have six of the ten Central Markets in the state. H-E-B decided to come here with Central Market first, 20 years ago. That covers the time that they were in Houston and really building up their market share there. They’re a very deliberate family that just does things at their own speed.
You’re talking about the Butt family?
The Butt family, and that might be another reason that, people are – it’s locally owned and Texas has had a lot of famous local successful grocery families, but the Butts are the survivors.
Is this the shape of more to come for North Texas? Is this H-E-B’s invasion of DFW?
Yeah, so a year ago, March, they said ‘we’re finally ready to come in.’ They had been buying up land and nice corners all over the place and just kind of land banking them, waiting for their time. Now they have a Plano store that’s going to open this fall, but they haven’t set the date yet. Two more under construction in Collin County in McKinney and Allen, that will open next summer. Then there’s a groundbreaking they’ve announced will be early next year in Mansfield. They own a lot of other land. They’ve bought some more even in the last year.