HEB knows how to make a remarkable entrance.
As the first of his eponymous grocery stores opened in Frisco on Wednesday, the scene was reminiscent of Black Fridays past.
At least 1,500 people lined up to enter the store, which opened at 6 a.m.
Crowds were excited by welcoming employees as tunes such as Montell Jordan’s That’s how we do howled. It took 24 minutes for the fast line to end. HEB employees handed out $25 gift cards and other giveaways.
The day before the opening, Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney paid the popular retailer the ultimate compliment.
“We have The Star, Dallas Cowboys and PGA, but I’m not sure anything has had that level of excitement in that community,” Cheney said.
One of those excited about the store opening was eighth-grade student Prosper, Dante Tapia, who dragged his mother, Claudia Tapia, in line for several hours. He wanted HE-B’s frozen chicken wings and avocados, which the young foodie said “have not been good here lately.”
The Reedy High School athletic training team arrived at 5 a.m. to buy donuts to take to football practice saying, “Damn, yeah, we’re gonna eat the donuts in front of them,” the players who were training.
The crowd gathered was made up of both long-time devotees and curious shoppers. Some became friends while waiting in line and sometimes they discovered that they had a lot in common besides HEB.
Kathryn Ovalle, 61, of The Colony, and Sela Garrett, 61, of Carrollton, found out they both have daughters who went to medical school in San Antonio, where HEB is headquartered.
“My daughter brings us hot sauce and all kinds of things. The tamales and the beef are great,” said Ovalle, who shops at Kroger but said she would drive the six miles to this HEB store to shop from now on.
Garrett heard that HEB stores sometimes have rare live plants, but were also there for their spices and preserves, vegetables, salsa, and fries. “I shop at Albertsons, but will often make special trips to this store,” she said.
Everyone seemed to have a HEB story, and while most people online were from Frisco, several shoppers said they were from Carrollton, The Colony, Little Elm and Plano. There was talk of buyers from as far away as Oklahoma and Arkansas arriving during the day.
The next rollout of the HE-B store in North Texas is its location in Plano later this fall. Stores in McKinney and Allen are under construction and are expected to open next summer. HEB said it would open a store in Mansfield early next year.
Stephen Butt, one of the company’s top executives and president of HE-B’s Dallas-based Central Market, said research has shown that Dallas-Fort Worth isn’t as familiar with HEB as other parties. from Texas. HEB has 420 stores in Texas and Mexico and employs 145,000 people.
About a third of the population, the retailer estimates, had never heard of HEB and likely moved here from another state. Another third has some knowledge of visiting family or college students.
Then there are the loyalists who shopped the chain for several years and missed it.
That would be Zach Kohn, 27, of Rowlett, queuing with his red HEB reusable shopping bags. He was picking up breakfast for his colleagues.
“HEB allowed me to spend my university studies with (its) prepared meals. It was so easy. I just had to warm them up,” he said, adding that he would drive to Frisco and shop at his local Tom Thumb until a HEB opened near him. “My wife works across from the property HEB bought in Rockwall.”
The real diehards were Jennifer Burnison, 46, of Little Elm, and Julie Hoffman, 56, of Celina, who were first in line and arrived at 6pm on Tuesday.
“My siblings all live in South Texas, so I know HEB,” Burnison said.
Hoffman added, “We’re just excited.”
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