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Handy Andy In Houston


IronTiger

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OK, one of the things I'm trying to find out more is about the murky history of Handy Andy in Houston. A bit of backstory is that the San Antonio supermarket built several supermarkets which were acquired by Randalls, and in the mid-1980s these became Flagship stores (including a small expansion at least for the Voss store) per an article I have somewhere. So far, history seems to check out. The remains of Handy Andy in San Antonio and surrounding areas were bought up by Arlan's Market a few years back, but in the day, things were different.

 

Handy Andy's thirty stores stocked gourmet foods, with an emphasis on gourmet foods, with an emphasis on European wines and cheeses, while the thirty H.E.B. stores in San Antonio seemed stodgy and catered to low-income customers.

 

The article goes onto mention that Handy Andy was weakened considerably when they went and built gourmet style stores in Houston in 1979 and lost millions. However, Randalls, according to this article, only bought four, those four being originally stores 11 through 14, 14610 Memorial Drive, 5219 West FM 1960, 1407 South Voss Road, and 9660 Westheimer Road. The Voss store closed a few years back and was torn down for a Whole Foods while the Westheimer store was torn down for a new replacement Randalls. The other two still are in their original buildings. But what happened to the other five? Unless the article was wrong, there are five other stores completely unaccounted for. The stores have a common distinctive building design that can be seen from Google Earth even on the lower resolution older shots, though you can see that as of the 1978 shot (either December 1978 or December 1977, Google Earth isn't entirely sure itself) the Handy Andy stores are open. Even if they got the date wrong, would they really overestimate the number of stores in Houston by five?

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I worked at Handy Andy #81, Memorial at Dairy Ashford, while in high school, and was part of the opening crew for the Westheimer store.  81 was the first, opening in 1971 or 72; the others followed in short order afterwards.  I don't remember any other than those four.  They had a fine cookware department, with Le Creuset among the brands offered, and a full service deli when very few others did.

 

I would imagine that one of the things that hampered them was having to schlep so much of their stock here from San Antonio, particularly after fuel prices went way up in the late 70s; lowering the speed limit to 55 didn't help the logistics, either.

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Given the existing evidence, plus the fact that 1979 was about the time the stores were sold (they may have closed in '79 and reopened as Randalls in '80), I'm going to chalk it up to one of TM's errors. I've browsed around Houston's aerial imagery that I can pick out distinctive commercial structures (Kmart, Target, etc.) and I've found no more HA's than the four that exist.

 

It's difficult to find much information on the chain in Houston since it went out before the 1985 Chron archives, and to a lesser extent, the chain as a whole.

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34 minutes ago, Tumbleweed_Tx said:

there was one at 8700 Gessner at 59/69. I think we went there maybe one time when we first moved to Houston in '75.

 

it's now a 99 cent store

It does not have the same distinctive roof structure as the other stores, but maybe it was (after all, it could've been built later).

 

I don't think it really helps finding them since there was also the home improvement store Handy Dan, and the 8700 Gessner store as it appears in 1978 seems to have a garden center hanging off of the side of it.

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Okay my 1976 Directory has this for Handy Andy:

These stores that you already mentioned:

#81 14610 Memorial
#83 1407 S. Voss
#84 9660 Westheimer

(assuming the 1960 store was not included since it wasn't in the city limits then)

 

It also lists these locations without store numbers:

6400 Westpark Room 340 (Corporate Office?)

 

9700 Hillcroft (I think this used to be a Rice in the 80s before Walmart)

12148 Gulf Freeway (I remember this as PharMor in the 90s, I can't remember what preceded it)

 

These two do not seem to have the distinctive roof structure of the others from Google Earth 1977.

 

 

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5 hours ago, gnu said:

 

9700 Hillcroft (I think this used to be a Rice in the 80s before Walmart)

 

I remember that one.  Across the street from where Lewis & Coker had been. We lived only a few blocks away.  I worked a Belden's during that era. Grocery stores were reliable employment for youngsters back then. I haven't spent much time in the area since the early '80s. Time for an exploratory visit. 

 

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By the way, the same article also states that in 1979, HA pulled OUT of Houston (and again, not sure how long they spent vacant before reopening as Randalls). Interesting though that there do appear to be more than the four purchased by Randalls, and the other ones do look different.

 

One thing is true though, they are in areas in the 1970s where I'd expect them to be.

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18 hours ago, IronTiger said:

By the way, the same article also states that in 1979, HA pulled OUT of Houston (and again, not sure how long they spent vacant before reopening as Randalls). Interesting though that there do appear to be more than the four purchased by Randalls, and the other ones do look different.

 

One thing is true though, they are in areas in the 1970s where I'd expect them to be.

 

I wonder if the roofline was only added to the later gourmet stores?

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5 hours ago, SpaceGhost said:

 

I wonder if the roofline was only added to the later gourmet stores?

The roofline is integrated into the stores. The former Voss store had that apparent from the front (Randalls' physical expansion of the store occurred on the sides of the store), and from what I can tell, all of them were gourmet-leaning, something I read from the article (presumably Handy Andy became a "normal" grocery store after the bankruptcy, which is why Arlan's Market was able to take over without much change). The fancy roof either seems to have been reserved for their "best" and largest stores, which is probably why Randalls bought those in particular and the ones that everyone remembers. It was also a pretty safe purchase, as over three and a half decades later, those stores have held their value in the areas they were located in (I can't say the same for the others), and all remained open (except the Voss store, which wasn't closed due to lack of business), with Safeway even rebuilding the Westheimer/Gessner store (afaik, the "newest" Randalls in Houston).

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11 hours ago, IronTiger said:

The roofline is integrated into the stores. The former Voss store had that apparent from the front (Randalls' physical expansion of the store occurred on the sides of the store), and from what I can tell, all of them were gourmet-leaning, something I read from the article (presumably Handy Andy became a "normal" grocery store after the bankruptcy, which is why Arlan's Market was able to take over without much change). The fancy roof either seems to have been reserved for their "best" and largest stores, which is probably why Randalls bought those in particular and the ones that everyone remembers. It was also a pretty safe purchase, as over three and a half decades later, those stores have held their value in the areas they were located in (I can't say the same for the others), and all remained open (except the Voss store, which wasn't closed due to lack of business), with Safeway even rebuilding the Westheimer/Gessner store (afaik, the "newest" Randalls in Houston).

 

Yup this seems to be the case. I was briefly transferred to Westheimer/Gessner to help prep the store for the grand opening and assist with the actual process. It was incredible how much went into that store! Especially compared to others of that time. It was made clear by the management that this location was one of the biggest, if not the biggest money maker for Randalls.

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