Austin Area Grocery Stores:
Food and drink are central to our daily life and are seldom far from our thoughts. What to have for breakfast? What to have for dinner? Will lunch break get here fast enough? Whatever the reason for your hunger finding what next to eat or drink can be as simple as going to your favorite place to dine or heading down to the nearest neighborhood grocery store.
Like any big city the Austin Metro Area has its fair share of grocery stores. From its home grown varities like Whole Foods and Wheatsville Co-op or its Texas originals like H.E.B. and Fiesta Texas or even its national chains like Wal-mart and Target there are plenty of choices to satisfy that hunger deep down inside.
By far the biggest by store count is H-E-B which seems to have a location on every street corner. It got its roots at the turn of the century when Florence Butt opened C.C. Butt Grocery Store in Kerrville, TX in 1905. By the 1920s Howard E. Butt, her youngest son, took over the business expanding the store to Del Rio, TX and Laredo, TX. Today H-E-B is headquartered down I-35 in San Antonio, TX and is one of the biggest privately held companies in the United States with more than 300 stores in Texas and in Mexico and over 40 stores in the Austin Metro Area alone, including two Central Market named grocery stores.
Whole Foods Market is an Austin original. Founded by John Mackey and Walter Robb it opened its first store in Austin, TX on September 20, 1980 when Safer Way Natural Foods and Clarksville Natural Grocery joined together under the new name. Specializing in organic foods they soon realized they had discovered an untapped market and expanded to Houston and Dallas in 1984. Today Whole Foods Market operates over 10 stores in Texas and over 400 stores in North American and the United Kingdom.
Wheatsville Co-Op is another Austin original getting its start four years before Whole Foods Market in 1976 and as it names implies is a community owned food co-operative with over 17,000 owners and is the only retail food cooperative in Texas. It carries a full line of grocery items including organic foods.
Randalls is another home grown Texas grocery store founded in Houston, TX by Robert R. Onstead, R. C. Barclay, and Norman N. Frewin on July 4, 1966. Today it operates 14 stores in the Metro Area and is a subsidiary of Safeway, Inc.
Wal-mart originally a retail products store got into the grocery business in 1998 when it added a full line of foods to its already sprawling retail space creating the Wal-mart SuperCenter. Its rise from humble beginnings in Arkansas in 1962 to the biggest retail / grocery store in the U.S. is legendary. Today Wal-mart operates over 20 stores in the Metro Area including its Sam's Club stores which is a membership-only warehouse club.
Like Randalls Fiesta Market got its start in Houston, TX in 1972. It was co-founded by Donald Bonham and O.C. Mendenhall. Originally catering to the Hispanic community in Houston it soon found out that its large variety of products and services appealed to other international communities located in Houston area. Today it has over 60 stores throughout Texas. Fiesta arrived in Austin, TX in 1997 and currently has two stores, one in North Austin and one in South Austin.
Sprouts grocery store was founded in Chandler, AZ in 2002. Today it it has more than 200 stores across the U.S. with three of them being in the Austin Metro Area: one in the big city, one in Round Rock, TX and one in Cedar Hill, TX. Sprouts aims to provide grocery shoppers with a means to health and affordable foods and products.
Trader Joe's is a privately held specialty grocery chain store with a majority of its 400 plus stores in California. It began in 1958 as a small chain of convenience stores with the name Pronto Markets. In 1967 it changed its name to Trader Joe's based on the founder’s name, Joe Coulombe.
CostCo is a national wholesale membership-only warehouse club that started as Price Club in a converted airplane hangar in San Diego, California in the year 1976. In 1983 the first CostCo warehouse was opened in Seattle, Washington. Today it has over 600 stores throughout the United States.
Target like Wal-mart also got into the grocery business circa 2011. It was originally founded as a retailing company in 1902 and is the second largest discount retailer in the country headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The first Target store opened in 1962. Today it operates over 1900 stores in North America.