HEB opens in Frisco with a crowd of 1,500 waiting

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HEB knows how to make a grand entrance.

When the first of his namesake grocery stores opened Wednesday in Frisco, the scene was reminiscent of Black Fridays past.

At least 1,500 people were in line waiting to get into the store, which opened at 6 a.m. A DJ and percussion from Wakeland High School kept the crowd entertained for what many have been waiting to do for years: walk into a local location. of HEB.

People waited outside the HEB store before it opened at 6 a.m. in Frisco on Wednesday.
People waited outside the HEB store before it opened at 6 a.m. in Frisco on Wednesday.(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

Employee greetings roused the crowds to tunes like Montell Jordan’s. This is how we do it he bellowed. The fast-moving line took 24 minutes to complete. 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 this level of enthusiasm in this community,” Cheney said.

One of those excited about the store opening was Prosper eighth-grader Dante Tapia, who dragged his mother, Claudia Tapia, to stand in line for several hours. He wanted HE-B’s frozen chicken wings and avocados, which the young enthusiast said “haven’t been good here lately.”

The Reedy High School athletic training team showed up at 5 am to buy donuts to take to football practice and said, “hell yeah, we’re going to eat the donuts in front of them,” the practicing players.

The assembled crowd was made up of long-time loyalists and curious shoppers. Some made friends by standing in line and sometimes found they had a lot in common other than HEB.

Kathryn Ovalle, 61, of The Colony, and Sela Garrett, 61, of Carrollton, discovered they both had daughters who went to medical school in San Antonio, where HEB is based.

“My daughter brings us hot sauce and all kinds of things. The tamales and beef are great,” said Ovalle, who shops at Kroger but said from now on he will drive the six miles to this HEB store to shop.

Garrett heard that HEB stores sometimes have rare live plants, but he was also there for their spices and canned goods, vegetables, salsa and chips. “I shop at Albertsons, but I often make some special trips to this store,” she said.

Everyone seemed to have a history of HEB, and while most of the people in line 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.

HE-B’s next store launch in North Texas is its Plano location later this fall. Stores in McKinney and Allen are under construction and are expected to open next summer. HEB said it will break ground on a store in Mansfield early next year.

Customers shop for groceries at the new HEB that opened at 6 a.m. in Frisco on Wednesday.
Customers shop for groceries at the new HEB that opened at 6 a.m. in Frisco on Wednesday.(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

Stephen Butt, one of the company’s top executives and president of Dallas-based HE-B Central Market, said the investigation showed Dallas-Fort Worth isn’t as familiar with HEB as other parts of Texas. HEB has 420 stores in Texas and Mexico and a workforce of 145,000.

About a third of the population, the retailer estimates, had never heard of HEB and likely moved here from another state. Another third have some familiarity from visiting family or their students at university.

Then there are the loyalists who bought the chain for several years and missed out.

That would be Zach Kohn, 27, of Rowlett, who was waiting in line with his red HEB reusable shopping bags. He was picking up breakfast for his co-workers.

“HEB got me through college with (their) prepared meals. It was so easy. I just had to heat them up,” she said, adding that she will drive to Frisco and shop at her local Tom Thumb until an HEB opens near her. “My wife works across the street from the property HE bought in Rockwall.”

The real fans were Jennifer Burnison, 46, of Little Elm, and Julie Hoffman, 56, of Celina, who were first in line and arrived at 6 pm Tuesday.

“All of my brothers live in South Texas, so I know of HEB,” Burnison said.

Hoffman added: “We’re excited.”

Twitter: @MariaHalkias

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