We knew something would come of Albertsons’ recent acquisition of United Supermarkets (better known in DFW for its suburban Market Street concept) and merger with Safeway (better known here as Tom Thumb). We just didn’t know what.
The merger made for 117 stores in DFW, according to Supermarket News, with a handful of those in close proximity to each other, such as the Albertsons and Tom Thumb situated kitty corner at Forest and Marsh. The guess that turned out to be correct was that Albertsons would sell off a number of its stores, which is what happened last Friday.
Experts guessed that Albertsons might sell to Austin-based H-E-B or turn some of the close proximity stores into Market Street concepts, but neither of those things happened. Instead, Minyard bought the eight Albertsons and four Tom Thumbs for sale in DFW, including the Albertsons at Northwest Highway and Midway and the Forest-Marsh store.
Remember Minyard? The original Minyard grocery store opened in 1932 in Dallas. It was a family-owned store and continued to be a family-owned company as it expanded to a few dozen stores over the decades, including a Snider Plaza location. But that store shuttered in 2001, and the Minyard family sold to an investment company in 2004, and most of its stores were closed and sold off.
Now, however, Minyard is once again a DFW-based company. Ray and Leticia Schalek bought Minyard in May 2011 and own the company’s remaining 12 stores, most of them in southern Dallas. When they bought the 12 Albertsons and Tom Thumb stores, doubling the company’s size, the Schaleks announced they would reopen them as “a totally new, fresh-focused format under the Minyard Sun Fresh Market banner.” Minyard will retain all 1,200 of the 12 stores’ current employees.
Initially, the news of the sale to Minyard was deflating. This may have been the best chance for H-E-B to enter to the market, and it didn’t happen. The Minyard stores that still exist aren’t much to speak of, so it’s hard to imagine this brand returning to the market triumphantly, especially considering how many new — and successful — grocers have entered since it left.
Not to mention that Minyard acquired what could reasonably be considered Albertsons and Tom Thumb’s rejects. We’re not necessarily surprised that the two Albertsons stores in our area are closing. The company’s stores have been struggling in this market for years. Every Dallas Albertsons was sold except East Dallas’ Casa Linda Plaza store. (None of Tom Thumb’s Dallas stores will close.)
But will Minyard be the company that is able to resurrect this store? We’re dubious but hopeful, and here’s why: Minyard is a comparatively small, Carrollton-based company, and in our experience, being local means a business cares more and tries harder.
Not many grocers these days are local. Austin-based Whole Foods and San Antonio-based Central Market (H-E-B’s upscale sister store) are at least Texan. These two stores pride themselves on carrying some local produce and products. Eatzi’s and Celebration Market, blends of grocery and take-and-bake, are Dallas-based and maybe the closest our neighborhood has to the local grocers of bygone days.
So Minyard’s might be a nice change of pace. Granted, though it’s based in Carrollton, its owners live in San Angelo. But there aren’t any Minyard stores outside of DFW at this point, and opening 12 new stores in a new format — and in territory that will pit the company against some of the best grocers in the business — means the company has no choice but to go all-in to succeed.
Let’s hope Minyard does this, with a store featuring products that live up to its new “fresh” name and with fair prices that convince us to shop there rather than our many options elsewhere (or at least add it to our ever-growing list of grocery store stops).
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