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MikeRichardson

Is Randalls actively dying now, and does anyone care?

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Somehow I only heard about this today. I knew about the ones earlier in the year.

https://www.chron.com/business/real-estate/article/Randalls-to-close-Montrose-area-store-13347808.php

 

Those stores are now already closed. While I was confirming that, I found an article about a 7th store!

https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/katy/news/article/Randalls-closing-surprises-some-customers-13472090.php

 

That's 7 freaking stores closed in a single year - 2018.

 

They seem to be doing fine in Austin though, where they somehow actually managed to build a brand new store a couple of years ago. I don't think it was a replacement store or anything either.

https://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2017/03/23/austin-suburb-lands-new-retail-center-anchored.html

 

I want to slap the people who keep repeating the same garbage about the "high prices". Yes, it was true a long time ago. It is no longer true anymore.

 

I also shop at Kroger regularly. The prices are basically the same as Randalls. They both average out to about the same. 

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I have lived 2 blocks from the Randalls on San Felipe for 22 years. I love it and hope it never closes haha! (if it was an HEB i would say the same thing as it isn't because i especially love Randalls, i just love the location being so convenient to walk to etc) :) 

Edited by gene

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The Randalls on Weslayan/Bissonnet is just sad now, produce is always old, the people working there are not happy looking, nowhere near where it was in the heyday....

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Every Randalls I've ever walked in seemed...old. Out dated. Boring. Dark. Generic everything. Bland 80's-90's interiors. Ironically HEB used to be the same. I remember having the same opinion about them until my brother started raving about HEB during our college days. I was like...HEB? really? This was when HEB got new people directing the organization and went full on revamp and started leading the charge with how contemporary grocers are laid out today. I remember finally shopping at an HEB instead of a Kroger and it was like a food wonderland! I couldn't believe it at the time. Randalls simply hasn't kept up with the times. Nothing but old people shop there. Not implying at all that old people are bad, but they simply don't make you money. They always shop with coupons and discounts. Its the younger crowd that makes you money, and I don't ever see a single soul younger than 50 in any Randalls I've ever been too. If they want to survive and rebound then they have to change and adapt to the market.

Edited by Luminare

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On 1/16/2019 at 6:49 AM, MikeRichardson said:

 

I want to slap the people who keep repeating the same garbage about the "high prices". Yes, it was true a long time ago. It is no longer true anymore.

 

I also shop at Kroger regularly. The prices are basically the same as Randalls. They both average out to about the same. 

 

I'm sorry, but you're wrong, Randall's higher prices are still a salient issue. I just compared the same "basket" of goods between Randall's and HEB, and Randall's total was 13% higher than HEB - even with the Remarkable Card discounts from Randall's and no discounts of any kind with HEB. Randall's was able to get away with higher prices for decades when the Houston grocery shopping market was smaller and Randall's had a reputation for superior service, selection, and shopping environment, but when HEB repositioned itself in the market, going from "Pantry" to "Central Market" in the 2000s, that was the death knell for an already ailing company. Even Kroger was modernizing its store layouts and inventory starting in the late 90s, while Randall's made little to no changes to layout, and was actually contracting its inventory, reducing choices, like when it stopped carrying Boar's Head so Safeway could push its in-house Primo Taglio brand. On top of contraction of selection, inventory management has gotten worse, as new owner Albertson's has closed the Houston-area Randall's distribution center and is now distributing to Houston out of DFW area. Randall's was able to ride on hometown customer loyalty for about 20 years to justify its higher prices, but when Houston's growth is mostly due to newcomers to the area with no loyalty to the brand, and it's alienating its longtime customers by no longer carrying their favorite items and running out of what it does carry, even long time customers start to notice they are paying a significant amount more and getting less for it. The nearest grocery store to me is a Randall's, though I usually go out of my way to either HEB or Fiesta, and even if I just want to quickly run in for something, I go to the next-nearest store, a Kroger, even though it's an old, small one, I know it doesn't run out of the things I buy regularly, is faster to get in and out of (usually because it has 2 to 3 times the number of checkouts open), and is cheaper. When I do run into Randall's, it's after a workout because it's right next to my gym, and I've noticed the clientele is getting older and older looking, the little old ladies who've shopped at this Randall's for 40 years, and when they die out, I'm sure this Randall's will close, if it doesn't do so before that. Another reason not to shop at a Randall's - they usually only have two checkouts open, and there is a very high probability that whichever one you choose, ahead of you will be a bluehair who waits until the checker has finished ringing up the entire cart, then fumbles in her purse for paper coupons, and then waits until after the checker has credited her for those coupons before fumbling in her purse for her checkbook to write a paper check.

Edited by Reefmonkey

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On 1/23/2019 at 11:45 AM, Reefmonkey said:

 

I'm sorry, but you're wrong, Randall's higher prices are still a salient issue. I just compared the same "basket" of goods between Randall's and HEB, and Randall's total was 13% higher than HEB

He was comparing Randalls to Kroger.

 

There were a number of things that contributed to Randalls' demise. The first thing was Tom Thumb, back in the early 1990s. Randalls and Tom Thumb were comparable in many ways, but Tom Thumb stores were generally smaller and located in more urban areas compared to Randalls in suburban areas. It also carried a lot of debt, which Randalls absorbed. With the acquisition, Randalls was now fighting in Dallas and Austin, all the while during a major grocery battle back home, which saw H-E-B Pantry, Albertsons, and Food Lion enter the market. It killed AppleTree (loaded with debt and old stores) but essentially Randalls as well, with it being sold to KKR, then Safeway within a period of two years.

 

The second thing was Safeway, which was based out of Northern California and had previously been in Houston (along with pretty much everywhere west of the Mississippi) but times had changed and at some point, Safeway had decided to make all their stores more like the Northern California market. This did not, to put it kindly, do well for their acquired stores, like Randalls, Dominick's, or Genuardi's. Meanwhile, Kroger modernized their stores, replacing Greenhouse stores with new Signature stores, and buying up a number of former Albertsons, which were large, almost new, and many of which were in great locations.

 

The third thing was H-E-B, which had finally managed to saturate the suburbs with cheap-to-build H-E-B stores (many of which were located in older grocery markets) and H-E-B was ready to take the market with full-line stores. During the 2000s, H-E-B built or replaced a number of stores, many of which were large and upscale, while Randalls stopped building stores and closed down many in 2005, unable to adapt to changing neighborhoods and tastes.

 

Meanwhile, Albertsons had a long journey to go on its own. Its 2002 pull-out from Houston (and a few other markets) stemmed primarily from an expensive acquisition of American Stores in 1999, which saw Lucky being converted to Albertsons in name and format, which angered customers. Ultimately, Albertsons pulled out of several markets and broke into two companies. By January 2014, Safeway was on the ropes with the Chicago division (Dominick's) being dismantled, while Albertsons had managed to re-form (despite a number of lost stores) and looking to expand again.

 

Unfortunately, Albertsons wasn't able to do a reverse merger of Safeway and ended up acquiring it for more than it was worth, inheriting Safeway's debt. This wasn't able to help Randalls much or get prices down, and the market share by this time was so little it wasn't going to be coming back from Kroger anytime soon, and like in 2005, there were a number of neighborhoods that Randalls wasn't going to work with anymore without some help. Luckily, instead of just closing them outright, Albertsons had made a purchase of a minority (40% I think) of a Texas-based chain, El Rancho Supermercado, which it was able to flip those stores to, so in a way, those "closed" stores are still in partial control of what was Randalls.

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I knew some of that, but appreciate the detail. I do think though that the dismissal of Randall’s higher prices (ie, him wanting to slap anyone who mentions it) is off base. I did a quick comparison of Randall’s prices with HEB because I happen to have an HEB account for curbside ordering, which made it quick for me to be able to compare Randall’s to a competitor and show they are in fact more expensive. I think his “feeling” that Randall’s is no more expensive than Kroger’s is just that, just a feeling, not based on comparing the same products side by side like I did with HEB. 

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I definitely feel like in regards to the the things that i PERSONALLY buy, Randall's is on par with other places I have visited (when using my Randall's card).

Again, I love the location of the Randall's at San Felipe and Sage and hope it never closes...or IF it ever does, that it gets replaced with an HEB or similar.

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This morning on Channel 2 news they were talking about Super Bowl BBQ's and how it's time to go to your favorite supermarket to pick up meat....and it listed all the grocers in Houston and Randall's had the best price for various cuts of meat! Thought of this thread of course!

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Alright, so I just shopped at Kroger the same basket of of common staple food items and household goods I had shopped at both HEB and Randall's (remember, Randall's was 13% higher than HEB), and Randall's was 17% higher than Kroger. With all due respect to peoples' feelings (aka gut instincts) about what they personally tend to buy, or cherrypicking a special promotional item, comparing the exact same basket of common staple goods is the only reliable method to determine whether Randall's is actually more expensive, and it is more expensive than both HEB or Kroger. I doubt I need to go through the same process to demonstrate that Randall's is more expensive than Fiesta, Walmart, and SuperTarget.

Edited by Reefmonkey

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While I still haven't seen that to be true from MY experience and with what I buy...I will say that I am guilty of also never being desperate to find the cheapest price on anything I purchase no matter what it is whether it be food, dining out, clothing , home accessories/furnishings etc....so good for anyone that is! I like the convenience of my Randall's...but hey once again i wont complain if it is one day replaced with another grocery store!

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On 1/20/2019 at 10:20 AM, Luminare said:

Its the younger crowd that makes you money, and I don't ever see a single soul younger than 50 in any Randalls I've ever been too.

Have you been to the Midtown Randall's? The majority of its customers appear to be white collar workers in their 20's or 30's.
The selection and prices reflect this demographic as well. The term "comparison shopping" is probably not in the typical customer's vocabulary, and there's an emphasis on convenience foods, sports drinks, and the more expensive name brands. Some items in the produce aisle can be double the price of Kroger, and triple that of Fiesta.
IMO, this Randall's greatest asset is people-watching.

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I'm not desperate to find the cheapest price either, and I think many Houstonians were happy to pay more at Randall's for decades when they felt they were getting a better shopping experience - better shopping environment, better service, better selection, and for years that was the case. But now all that is gone, and all that is left is the higher price, and that does play a significant part in Randall's decline, despite the OP wanting to slap anyone who says so. According to the USDA, a moderate-cost food plan for a family of 4 with kids between 6 and 11 is $1,051.80 per month (low-cost is $843.50 and thrifty is $639.80). With a price difference of ~15%, you're talking almost $2,000 more a year you're spending at Randall's for the same stuff. That's more than pocket change.

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I guess i have lots of extra money to blow but yeah still dont see it haha! I do go to HEB periodically and nope...still dont see a difference if any on what i buy (remember i go out to eat 5 to 7 nights a week)...so hey if you are wanting me to save money I am all for it if necessary...get HEB to take over the Randall's on San Felipe and Sage...I am all for it ;) 

Edited by gene

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I'll tell you what, I'm not a huge fan of HEB, either, their cavernous stores with the one-way maze you have to go through in the produce aisle, they're kind of a nightmare to shop at, if they are at all busy. Also, no matter what time of day you go, there will be multiple aisle partially or even fully blocked by restocking activities. Sometimes it is an employee actively restocking, and they act annoyed if you dare reach around them to get the item you need that they are blocking, but just as often, they will have a big cart sitting there unattended blocking an aisle. It can even be a Saturday afternoon, the busiest time for the Bunker Hill store, and there will still be massive restocking activity going on, to the detriment of shoppers actually trying to move through the store to get what they need. Below is an excerpt of an email exchange I had with the manager of the Bunker Hill store:

 

Quote

 

I appreciate the fact that the HEB Bunker Hill store isn’t like a neighborhood Randall’s in terms of customer traffic or breadth of inventory, but the daytime stocking activity still seems excessive and inefficient. Last Thursday in a ten minute period around 9:45 I documented twenty-five (25) separate instances of stocking activity at the same time in the store, and of those instances, fifteen (15) were carts or forklift pallets left unattended in shopping areas with no employees around them. Several of these were empty or simply filled with empty cardboard boxes. It would be one thing if employees were swiftly moving merchandise in and rapidly stocking, and then just as rapidly moving their now-empty carts, trollies, etc. and empty cardboard boxes back into the back of the store, but shopping areas are being used as storage areas for to-be-stocked merchandise and stocking carts that are either empty or filled with refuse from stocking activities.

Attachment limitations prevent me from sending you all twenty-five photos I took during last Thursday’s visit, but I would like to call your attention to three. The first, titled “card aisle.jpg” shows a massive fork lift hand cart blocking the greeting card aisle. I guess your employees decided no one needed to purchase greeting cards just then, because it would have been virtually impossible for a customer to get in there. When I told my wife about it, she said “oh, yeah, there seems to always be something in there, they use the card aisle for storage.”

Next I’d like to call your attention to “sitting marshmallows.jpg” which shows an employee leisurely sitting down on the floor while she stocks. It’s unprofessional looking, and there is also no chance she’s going to be able or want to swiftly get out of customers’ way if they need to get an item she’s sitting in front of. You can also see one bag of marshmallows sitting directly on the store floor, but I assure you behind her were multiple bags directly on the floor. “On Floor.jpg” shows another instance where merchandise is being rested on the floor during stocking. Customers don’t want to see the food they intend to buy and eat so cavalierly set on the floors where hundreds of people a day walk in, tracking in dirt and bacteria.

 

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4 hours ago, dbigtex56 said:

Have you been to the Midtown Randall's? The majority of its customers appear to be white collar workers in their 20's or 30's.
The selection and prices reflect this demographic as well. The term "comparison shopping" is probably not in the typical customer's vocabulary, and there's an emphasis on convenience foods, sports drinks, and the more expensive name brands. Some items in the produce aisle can be double the price of Kroger, and triple that of Fiesta.
IMO, this Randall's greatest asset is people-watching.

 

Actually I haven't. I probably should go scope it out. However, this still actually supports my argument. I would imagine that this is one of their better performing stores because it understands who has the money and who doesn't. It wouldn't surprise me though if this was an outlier. There is always a "but" and "exception to the rule" in any case. The oddball in the group. If this store is successful and is doing well then hopefully this is a store that the higher ups at Randells are taking a look at. My earlier post was never to indicate that I hope the brand should burn in hell or anything like that. Not at all. More business competition is always better. My argument was that Randells has for a long time been resistant to the change thats been happening in the market place and if you do not change then you die. Plain and simple.

Edited by Luminare
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16 hours ago, Luminare said:

 

. . . if you do not change then you die. Plain and simple.

Truer words were never written. I started shopping at HEB when I went away to college. There were no HEB stores in the Houston area at the time and Randall's was in its ascendancy in the late 1970's and early 1980's in Houston.

 

HEB has adapted to the changes in the market better than Randall's. Note too that HEB does not have a single model. The new super store at 1604 and Bulverde in San Antonio is quite different from the store at Buffalo Speedway and Bissonnet as is the store at El Camino Real and Bay Area Blvd. in the Clear Lake area. I picked those three because I am most familiar with them.

 

I do hope that Randall's survives. I remember how much my mother favored it over other grocery stores in our neighborhood back in the day. But, as one Randall's store manager told me when I asked about the availability of a certain item, "We are now part of Safeway/Albertson's and pretty much have to take what we are given." :(

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On 1/30/2019 at 3:44 PM, Luminare said:

 

Actually I haven't. I probably should go scope it out. However, this still actually supports my argument. I would imagine that this is one of their better performing stores because it understands who has the money and who doesn't. It wouldn't surprise me though if this was an outlier. There is always a "but" and "exception to the rule" in any case. The oddball in the group. If this store is successful and is doing well then hopefully this is a store that the higher ups at Randells are taking a look at. My earlier post was never to indicate that I hope the brand should burn in hell or anything like that. Not at all. More business competition is always better. My argument was that Randells has for a long time been resistant to the change thats been happening in the market place and if you do not change then you die. Plain and simple.

 

This Randall's is an outlier just because of its location - its within actual walking distance of hundreds of people, on the way home for a lot of people who go South and Southwest from downtown, and is one of the two grocery stores serving the whole downtown area

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I went to both Kingwood Randall's today looking for Plated meals since Plated was bought by Albertson's/Randall's.  Both stores were dead.  I tried to pick up some flour as well and luckily I checked the date, because the "best buy" date was January 2019.  There was a large aisle of Christmas and Thanksgiving supplies and food for 50% off.  I thought they would have dumped this stuff at 90% off months ago.  They just don't seem to have enough business to move any inventory.  To top it off, these stores do not have Plated.  I since learned from the website that only the Memorial Drive and W Holcombe stores carry it.  

 

I worked at Randall's in high school and it was always a family favorite.  I hate to see it go, but I can't imagine these stores staying open with one new HEB and another on the way.  

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I think the answer to the OP's question is increasingly clear.  Yes, Randall's is actively dying and no, no one cares, not even Albertson's (the owner of Randalls). They apparently decided some years ago that they could not compete in Houston, so why even try?

 

Randalls to Close Five (more) Grocery Stores in Houston

 

This will leave them with 17 stores, down from 51 in 2005 (and 28 just a year ago).

Edited by Houston19514
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Yet mine remains...and for that i am thankful :)

 

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I think I would understand closing the other stores more if they were focusing on upgrading the remaining ones, but the evidence for that isn't really there.

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On 1/13/2020 at 3:59 PM, cspwal said:

I think I would understand closing the other stores more if they were focusing on upgrading the remaining ones, but the evidence for that isn't really there.

 

They did update the store at 12850 Memorial Dr. recently.

 

On 1/13/2020 at 1:35 PM, Houston19514 said:

I think the answer to the OP's question is increasingly clear.  Yes, Randall's is actively dying and no, no one cares, not even Albertson's (the owner of Randalls). They apparently decided some years ago that they could not compete in Houston, so why even try?

 

Randalls to Close Five (more) Grocery Stores in Houston

 

This will leave them with 17 stores, down from 51 in 2005 (and 28 just a year ago).

 

Damnit!

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