H-E-B madness grips North Texas as first Metroplex store opens in Frisco

Outside of North Texas, it’s not uncommon to rush to the HEB. That’s exactly what you do when you need a gallon of milk or a packet of tortillas on the way home.

But that wasn’t an option in the Dallas-Fort Worth area until Wednesday, when HEB opened its first store in the Metroplex.

On the first day at Frisco HEB there was a big fanfare complete with a drum line, 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 slightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: So what was it like being at the opening of the first HEB at the Metroplex in Frisco? I guess that was a historic event.

Maria Halkias: It had a kind of Black Friday vibe because there was 1,500 people waiting in line at 6am and it took 24 minutes throughout the day to get in touch. I left at 11am and the registers were still up to the back of the store and they were all working.

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Are retail pros in other parts of the country realizing there is something going on with HEB here in Texas?

do they. There are a few other strong regional grocers, but HEB — 20 years ago when they came to Houston — they didn’t quite have the reputation they have today. And I think their own brand groceries is what I heard from people yesterday. They all had things to come for and HEB really cultivates that. They’re coming here with their first store, so they released a DFW coffee, and their sushi department created the DFW roll and the Red Pegasus roll to cultivate that excitement.

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But I wonder, given its reputation, why did it take HEB so long to finally move to North Texas? Where have you gotten your things from so far?

And I think that’s why there was 1,500 people in line and it’s probably going to be very busy for a while. There was this fear of missing out. You know, Dallas, there are six or seven HE-Bs in the southern and western perimeters, 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. HEB decided 20 years ago to come here first with the Central Market. That covers the time they were in Houston and really grew their market share there. They are a very conscious family who just do things at their own pace.

You’re talking about the Butt family?

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The Butt family, and this could be another reason, is locally owned and Texas has many famous local successful grocer families, but the Butts are the survivors.

Is this the shape of more for North Texas? Is this HE-B’s invasion of DFW?

Yeah, so a year ago, in March, they said, “We’re finally ready to come in.” They had bought up land and nice corners everywhere and just banked them while they bided their time. Now they have a Plano store that will open this fall, but they haven’t set a date yet. Two more are under construction in Collin County in McKinney and Allen, which will open next summer. Then there’s a groundbreaking, which they have announced will be held in Mansfield early next year. You own a lot of other land. They even bought a few more in the last year.

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