Specialty grocer The Fresh Market is finding competition in the Houston-area market to be a bit bruising.

Less than a year after opening a River Oaks store at Wesleyan and Westheimer, the grocer announced it would close the location, which happened to be near H-E-B’s highly successful Central Market concept.

Company officials also said they would curb plans for expansion in new markets, according to reports.

The good news is, The Fresh Market intends to keep its three remaining Houston stores open and hasn’t abandoned plans to open its Clear Lake-area location, 1507 W. Bay Area Boulevard in the Baybrook Village shopping center.

Store officials offered this statement Friday:

“Following an in-depth analysis of our stores and the markets in which we operate, we made the strategic decision to close four stores. Three of these stores are located in Sacramento, California and the other is the River Oaks location in Houston, Texas.  These stores will close within the next week. The Palo Alto, CA and Santa Barbara, CA stores are not affected and our plans to open a new store in Laguna Hills later this year have not changed. Our other three Houston stores are not affected and we plan to open an additional Houston-area store in Webster, TX later this year.”

The Bay Area Boulevard is actually in Houston and not in Webster city limits.

The Fresh Market, which bills itself as a specialty grocer, has about 137 stores in 26 states. It’s known for bountiful produce, a full-service meat counter, gourmet and prepared foods and an in-store bakery.

With its Baybrook Village store, the grocer is aiming for shoppers in Webster, Friendswood and League City, officials have said.

In November 2012, Rice Epicurean announced it had entered into agreements to lease four of its Houston stores to The Fresh Market, including the River Oaks location that is closing.

Do you plan to shop at the Bay Area Boulevard site?

(5) comments

Steve Fouga

Laura, like so many other stores in that area Fresh Market will be a target of opportunity whenever I'm that far north.

I wonder what differentiates their produce, meats, and baked goods from the products we buy at Kroger, Randall's, or the Farmer's Market here on the Island. Variety? Quality? Price? Unless the difference is dramatic, I doubt I'll make it a regular destination.

rah

Galveston could use something like this. With out summer crowds fresh produce is always welcomed. As it is I drive to Houston for my needs. The HEB at 646 is out closest to a wide variety of produce. I am not the only one driving from Galveston.

Melvin Herrmann

I like going to fresh market places for my produce instead of grocery stores because it lasts longer. I usually drive to Alvin to Froburgs Fruit and Vegetable farm. They have been around for many years and always have good fresh produce. I would be willing to drive further to get produce that is fresher and will last longer.

Marge Laney

YES!! I'm sick of driving into town every weekend to shop at Whole Foods! What is it about our area that makes Whole Foods and others like them stay away?

I do think that the location Fresh Market chose is curious at best. Fighting mall traffic to go grocery shopping could turn some potential customers off.

There's a lot of pent up demand in the Clear Lake area for great grocers that specialize in organics. I hope this is just the beginning!

Steve Fouga

"What is it about our area that makes Whole Foods and others like them stay away?"

A perception that the local clientele can't afford the prices, and won't appreciate the quality of their products more than cheaper, low-quality items from stores like HEB, Kroger, Randall's, Target, etc.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.