San Antonio Foodie Scene–Grocery Shopping

Congratulations and Happy 1st Birthday to Green Fields Market in the Stone Oak area of San Antonio!  Green Fields is a wonderful neighborhood grocery store that serves a growing and vibrant part of town.  I’ve shopped there several times and really like the mix of products they carry, mainly because it’s a grocery store, not a one-stop superstore!    Surviving and thriving in the San Antonio grocery market is no small feat, considering the list of other competitors who’ve tried and are no longer on the scene.

The San Antonio/South Texas grocery scene is dominated by locally owned HEB.  I love HEB!   I shop there at least twice a week, and have been an HEB shopper since I was a child.  But when I travel to other places to visit my adult kids, I enjoy the variety and choices they have that aren’t really available here.  Not that other chains haven’t tried!

Albertson’s came into the San Antonio market many years ago and built stores all over town very aggressively.  They went head to head with HEB in some areas and put some stores in neighborhoods where HEB did not have a presence.  Kroger did the same thing.  Neither chain is in San Antonio any more.  Many of their store spaces are now either vacant, repurposed, or occupied by an HEB!

The same thing happened over the years with a couple of local grocery stores who used to be part of the San Antonio scene.  I remember fondly the Handy Andy chain, another locally-owned grocery store.  They expanded into Houston in the 70’s and some other areas also, until they went out of business.

These days, at least in San Antonio, the only real competition for HEB is Super Wal-Mart, and, to a lesser degree, Super Target.   We also have a Whole Foods and Sun Harvest.  And HEB’s gourmet Foodie paradise, Central Market. But these smaller stores, including Green Fields, serve specific niche markets.  They’re not for everyone and don’t try to be.   I like them all and shop at all of them, for specific products. but for general grocery shopping, gotta be HEB!

What makes HEB so successful and has allowed them to dominate their market here in San Antonio?   I’m sure there are any number of reasons from a business point of view, but to me, from a consumer point of view, it comes down to something very basic–HEB knows their shoppers!    I’ve visited HEB stores in several parts of town and I am always interested to see how each store is “personalized” for the neighborhood it serves.  Certain items are found in each store that are popular with shoppers in the area the store serves.   “My” HEB is in the north central part of San Antonio, at 1604 and Blanco.  Over the last year or so, I’ve been noticing quite a number of items in some departments (the cookie aisle particularly) that are from Mexico.  Coincidentally, there’s a growing number of Mexican nationals who are buying homes and moving into the area.  How nice for them to see familiar products on the shelves!   Another store I visit often has the city’s largest selection of Kosher products.  Close by–the Jewish Community Center!  Coincidence?  Don’t think so!

So, Happy Birthday, Green Fields!  You’ve had a great first year, and here’s to many more!

P.S.  Trader Joe’s, we’d sure love to have you in San Antonio!!  I read an article that said your distribution center is too far away to make a store in Texas practical.  So build one here!!  C’mon down!!