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.
— Jennifer S. Gates (@cmjsgates) August 16, 2016
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.