North Texas' Tom Thumbs Might Be for Sale, and We Need H.E.B. to Buy Them

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There's speculation in grocery-store land that Tom Thumb's parent company, Safeway, is looking to sell off of its Texas stores. The company has been dropping some dead weight lately, including stores in Canada and Chicago, and recently hired Goldman Sachs to scout the market for potential buyers.

A CultureMap article last week reported that one option would be to break up the stores by region, and "some analysts speculated San Antonio-based HEB could pick up the Dallas-Fort Worth [Tom Thumb] locations."

We hear that's not on the horizon. But for what it's worth, a thread in a Beer Advocate blog from early this year speculates (based on rubbing elbows at parties) that H.E.B. already has plans on coming to Dallas. With Tom Thumb potentially cutting out, the timing here is a great as one of those fresh hot tortillas they roll out all day. (Calls to the company weren't immediately returned.)

There are more than 150 H.E.B. stores across the state but none in Dallas proper, and we need one. There's just something about H.E.B. -- the older, less flashy and more wholesome big sister to Central Market -- that makes everyday shopping pure greatness. It lacks the cart rage and hostile shoppers so readily found at CM. The tension for picking out a pepper promptly is less intrusive.

The produce section at H.E.B. also isn't typically so long and snaky. If you forget cilantro, you don't have to continue to follow the jet stream to the end, and re-enter through the main doors all over again to retrieve it (because you know turning that cart around and going against the flow are fighting words).

Throw in the fact that they carry the full load of everyday items and necessities, which means you don't need to stop anywhere else for toiletries or cheap cases of Diet Coke.

The chain recently opened a new store in Austin at Mueller, and Thrillist did a whole piece on the 15 most fantastic things, including those fresh tortillas, the ambitious craft beer selection, a fantastic meat market (sad face for Tom Thumb's selection) and a whole bevy of meals ready to go, including, evidently, some pretty good whole slow-cooked briskets. Plus, they said H.E.B. has the cheapest gas in town.



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34 comments
rushrb
rushrb

We lived in South TX our whole lives until two years ago.  We will drive from North West Dallas Metro to Waxahachie, TX to do an HEB run.  The meat selections are like non other.  The meal discounts are amazing for anyone on budget.  Their Hill Country products, in some cases, are better than name brand.  I can't wait for the Allen Store to open.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

HEB is already entering the DFW market, they have purchased new store locations in northern and southern Ft Worth, McKinney, Grand Prairie, southern Denton.

They prefer to operate stores that are on average 50% larger than the Thumb stores, the word on the street is HEB would rather build their market share organically instead of buying the Thumbs.

and really, what does HEB do that others don't also do? it's not like we have a lack of grocery choices here, doing just as good a job as HEB imho. soon there will be another higher end group, fresh market, battling CM and whole foods and a budget price goup, winco, going against wal mart and kroger. the grocery market is very competitive to say the least...

Jungle_Joe
Jungle_Joe

I grew up in South Texas and can tell you there is nothing special about HEB. In fact, they're pretty big a-holes. They create generic version of any and every product in their stores that sell well and replace the original version with their lesser version. They've also run any other grocery out of town that they can.  They are very anti-choice and anti-competition, and that's not good for the consumer.

cajunscouse9
cajunscouse9

I'm in Louisiana and the nearest H.E.B. or H.E. Butts as we call it, is an hour away. Anytime I'm within 3O miles of Carthage, Tx. I'm there. It's another Texas institution that more than lives up to its legend.

adventure_ike
adventure_ike

Yesssss. Born and raised in South Texas, moved up here a few years ago, and haven't gotten over the lack of HEB since.

J_A_
J_A_

I like HEB. I hate that Walmart is the most convenient place for general groceries but I gotta go to Costco for some stuff and the Asian grocery for other stuff then trader joes for other things. Ugh

Nictacular
Nictacular

Those bastards at Central Market are the worst*.

*Full disclosure: I've worked at CM for the past few years on the weekends. Fuck em.

msek66
msek66

YES! YES! YES! We need H.E.B in Dallas!! One of my favorite things about going home to the Valley is getting my H.E.B. fix. I really hope this happens. Fingers crossed! Please! Please! Pleeeease!!!

heblover
heblover

I've lived in Austin for 13 years and when I moved to Dallas, I couldn't BELIEVE there wasn't an HEB. I despise Kroger and Tom Thumb, and when I drove 12 miles to try the Central Market, was shocked at how rude the shoppers were there....it was an 'every man for himself' mentality. Please please please HEB. Please come to Dallas. And bring Torchy's Tacos with you ;)

Hulon_Pate
Hulon_Pate

HEB's would be awesome so when my mother calls me I know what she is talking about as far as sales.

Hulon_Pate
Hulon_Pate

HEB! Yes please , Walmart's are becoming tragic life events with only marginal selections of lower tier food products.  I mean why does something simple as Fig Newtons need so many ingredients and additives?  

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I was recently at the Tom Thumb at Lover's, and the vegetables were mostly limp and spoiled.  I wonder how Urban Orchard is getting on.

NewsDog
NewsDog

A friend who has worked for TT for 28 years says Albertson's is seriously looking at buying them.

It doesn't matter who buys them the name isn't going to change, just some product lines and probably senior management at the regional level.    

rushrb
rushrb

@adventure_ike  We lived in South TX our whole lives until two years ago.  We will drive from North West Dallas Metro to Waxahachie, TX to do an HEB run.  The meat selections are like non other.  The meal discounts are amazing for anyone on budget.  Their Hill Country products, in some cases, are better than name brand.  I can't wait for the Allen Store to open.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@Nictacular There's this fat bitch at Lover's CM that attends to the bulk products who loudly complains about everything; the bakery people are the rudest, surliest employees ever; and the greengrocers look at you as if they want to kill you.  Add to that the maze to get from one end of the store to the other, the wait at the weighing stations, and the general claustrophobia in the place, and you have a hot mess.

G_David
G_David

Torchy's is already here. And they're awesome.

monstruss
monstruss

@Hulon_Pate ...who shops for groceries at Walmart if they give a shit about what's in their food?

juliejaynak
juliejaynak

@NewsDog My dad has been a Tom Thumb employee (pharmacist) for about 20 years. Safeway has absolutely RUINED this chain. It's very depressing. His hours and benefits have been slashed, their products are shitty and being pushed into their stores as the private brand over many other popular/competitive brands. I LOVE HEB and can only BEG that their c-suite strongly considers restoring the Tom Thumb name and brand to what it once was- which was definitely closer to the high standard that HEB has always held.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin Sounds like a nice alternative to Central Market.  I thought it was my imagination that shoppers were unusually hostile there (agreeing with Lauren).  It must be the reason why their employee turnover is so high.

Nictacular
Nictacular

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Ha! I know who you're talking about and you are 100% accurate. My store has some ridiculously surly people working the meat counter and this one Mexican dude in the deli who is always on edge.

Southlake people...they'll drive you crazy.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@monstruss  I recently bought frozen bay scallops at Kroger.  Because I trusted Kroger I skipped past reading where they came from until I got sick on them: "Farm raised in China".

LeroyJenkem
LeroyJenkem

@juliejaynak @NewsDog I feel for your dad. Really. I used to love shopping at Tom Thumb, but Safeway couldn't have done a better job of gutting its stores and destroying employee morale if its upper management just set off bombs in each one. Hearing how Safeway just dumped all of its Dominick's stores in Chicago makes me hope for the HEB purchase for Tom Thumb: like the old Cullen Companies Tom Thumb, Dominick's used to be the best grocery store chain in Chicago, and then Safeway management tore out its heart and ripped out every last bit of value before discarding the corpse.

G_David
G_David

The employee turnover at CM is actually ridiculously low for a grocery store.

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