H-E-B Buys Up Six Minyard’s Sunfresh Stores, DFW Screams With Joy

H-E-B

DFW Internet was set ablaze yesterday after H-E-B announced the purchase of six Sun Fresh Market stores in the area. (Photo by Dave Stone/Flickr)

Monday afternoon, the Dallas-area Internet exploded: It wasn’t just a rumor, the long-desired H-E-B grocery store chain had bought up six Sunfresh Market sites — four in Dallas, one in Grapevine, and one in McKinney.

Interestingly enough, it seems like the drumbeat for expansion may have been happening even earlier than this, judging from this thread in Retail Watchers.

As neighborhood NextDoor pages and Facebook groups filled with the requisite 15 reposts of the same Dallas Morning News article, people began to express their joy at the possibility of the area finally getting the stores that are ubiquitous in Central and Southeast Texas, but not so much around here. They also began to guess about which it would be – Central Market, or H-E-B.

Bob Ginsburg, a commercial real estate broker who also lives near one of the company’s new purchases, said the size of the stores aren’t typical for an H-E-B store, but more closely resemble the more compact location of the Central Market at Preston and Royal (which was previously a Borders bookstore).

“H-E-B typically goes for a larger size than these Sunfresh for their conventional stores, they have a format called ‘H-E-B Plus’ that competes with the Walmart Supercenters and the Kroger Marketplace stores,” Ginsburg said. “These 50,000-square-foot sized stores such as the Sunfresh are a bit of an ‘in-between’ size today.”

“The land sites that H-E-B has purchased around the Metroplex are all in the size range that would allow for the Plus stores to be built,” he explained further. “But in an in-fill, mature market like inside LBJ, H-E-B would never get the 12-15 acres they would want for the Plus store. They are very smart operators. The decision of format will be based on the household demographics and competition.”

So what’s Ginsburg’s guess regarding the location at Midway and Northwest Highway? “For all intents, there is almost zero competition and the demos are right for a Central Market,” he said, adding that it might result in some cannibalization of the Preston Royal location, but only by about 10 percent at most.

And it certainly sounds that way in press releases from the company, which said they are evaluating each space, but “Central Market continues to be the primary format for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.” Employees at one Sunfresh Market said Monday they were also told their location would be a Central Market, with the biggest clue being that the in-store pharmacy would not be making the transition. H-E-B stores typically have pharmacies, Central Market stores do not.

But that didn’t stop the speculation yesterday – or the joy.

Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates, whose district is home to one of the grocery sites, reacted on Twitter.

And folks near the Midway Road and Northwest Highway location reacted with a mix of curiosity and downright giddiness, as did Lakewood and Lake Highlands area residents near the location at Mockingbird and Northwest Highway.

“As both a neighborhood resident and neighborhood business owner I’m thrilled to see a high-quality retailer like HEB enter our area,” said Adam Saxton, who is both a Midway Hollow resident and the owner of The Saxton Group, which owns the McAlister’s Deli nearby. “It’s both a great amenity for residents and a fantastic draw to other retail tenants. I hope more top quality businesses soon follow.”

” I hope it’s the hybrid HEB/Central Market,” said Kara Heinen, a Midway Hollow resident.

“Me too! HEB has a great store brand and their prices are reasonable,” said neighbor Susan Lazzeroni.

“I’m so excited, I could pass out!” said Darla Crites. And an equally enthusiastic Paul Burnham said, “I could weep with joy at the moment.”

“Finally! The best part of Central Texas is here,” swooned Carolyn Johnson. 

“As someone raised in San Antonio, I couldn’t be more thrilled to have an actual HEB in Dallas!” said Noelle Dixon, who now lives in the Lakewood area. “I’ve been hoping and praying for it for the last 13 years!”
“H-E-B is an excellent addition to a neighborhood where residents value both high quality and reasonable prices,” Lakewood realtor and resident Heather Guild said. “As a working mom, I’m thrilled that my shopping can be condensed into one trip – as I currently make a Whole Foods/Trader Joes/Target run to pick up everything I need for myself, the kiddo and ‘quick fix’ meals.”
While the company doesn’t seem to be ruling out the possibility of H-E-B stores in these mature locations, it will be interesting to see if all of them become Central Markets, or if there will be a mix. Will H-E-B finally come to Dallas? Stay tuned.

10 Comment

  • What I’ve never understood is why they’d stopped in Waxahachie? Given the grocery musical chairs of Tom Thumb/Safeway, Albertsons’ on/off and all the other smaller messes, why didn’t they come to Dallas years ago?

  • I grew up in San Antonio, and I cannot understand the anticipation for HEB. It was never more than a middle-market store chain, and judging by recent visits to HEB in Houston, that has not changed. Perhaps that is the reason that the company developed Central Market–it wanted to differentiate those stores completely from its HEB brand. Like WalMart, HEB serves a mass audience that is more concerned about convenience than quality, but on a slightly higher level, like Kroger. And if you are a Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s/Central Market shopper, you are going to be greatly disappointed in HEB. And, Jon, the reason that HEB stopped in Waxahachie is that they did not see a path towards dominating the market and driving out most competition in DFW. That is their modus operandi, and, until now, they did not see how they could do it in DFW. Since the purchase of Safeway and the loss of Minyard’s/Sunfresh, perhaps they now see an easier path. Instead of fighting several years of losses and high investment in DFW against multiple competitors, they just made their outer ring investments and bided their time until the voracious DFW competition winnowed itself down to a more manageable group of competitors. When HEB does enter the DFW market, it will be because they believe they can vanquish WalMart/Albertson’s/Kroger/Fiesta to the point that some or most of them will leave this market. Fiesta will do OK, but Albertson’s and Kroger are in their sights. And if WalMart stumbles, HEB will undoubtedly win.

    • mm

      I have shopped there in San Antonio and Austin both, and I think we are so used to the Central Market concept at Preston Royal we think we are getting clones. While I marveled at the Lovers store and shopped there like crazy when it first opened, it’s really too big. Preston Royal is the perfect size!

  • I live in Midway Hollow and hope that it’s more of an HEB so that we can get the great products that they offer without the premium proving of Central Market. If we want that, Preston and Royal is not far away.

  • I lived in San Antonio for 16 years and live HEB. Have been wishing for them to come into this market since moving here in 1993. The offerings locally do not compare in variety, price and market consciousness. Love Central Market but would be THRILLED for an HEB❤️

  • I live in Uptown and the Whole Foods we got a year ago is so very disappointing. If they change the Sun Fresh to a Central Market it will be like printing money.

  • We look forward to H-E-B, because we like a lot of their store brand stuff. Not all of it is good, but it’s generally a cut above the average store brand food. We also love items like their combination flour/corn tortillas, coffee, Shiner Bock beans, variety of cheese sticks not found elsewhere, and other items. We always have my mother-in-law pick up goods from H-E-B for us on her way up from the hill country.