Howard Edward Butt is not a name known by many, but if you’re in Texas and ask anyone about HEB, someone will point you to the closest grocery store. With a history in Texas dating back to 1905, when Howard’s mother opened her first grocery store, I felt I couldn’t skip a mention of HEB.
It wouldn’t be right to talk about all things Austin and not mention this simple grocery store. When you shop for groceries in Austin, there are a few choices other than HEB, but the biggest one, Central Market, is owned by HEB, so it’s not really a competitor. While based now in San Antonio, HEB started out in Central Texas, Kerrville, and grew expanding south, then east and north.
Today, the HEB chain dominates Central Texas and continues to expand its enterprises. Unlike other grocery store chains that come and go in Austin, HEB can boast of their local roots. They even package many of their own brands here in Texas. Walk into any HEB, and you know you’re in Texas. Aside from their own brands, they feature products grown and manufactured in Texas. I’ve known people who left Texas for work or family, and one of the first things they nearly all say (right after, “It’s cold up here”) is, “I can’t find any good Pico, BBQ sauce, fresh tortillas, or any other good TexMex prouducts.”
When you visit Austin, take time to walk through an HEB store, but purchase nothing. You won’t be able to get that where you’re from, and it might tempt you to move to Austin. The city is big enough as is.