H-E-B. These three letters roll off of Texans’ tongues as easily and as frequently as barbacoa.
HE Butt Grocery—founded in Kerrville, Texas, in 1905—has the kind of cult following few retailers in any category enjoy.
Eater helps to explain the draw.
H-E-B has just tapped into one of the most powerful cultural forces in existence: Texas pride.
What’s unique about H-E-B fandom is that its customers are ultimately loyal to H-E-B in so far as they are loyal to Texas. This is perhaps one of the most distinguishing factors between H-E-B and the other cult grocers: People love Publix subs, crave Trader Joe’s snacks, and revere Wegmans’ customer service, but H-E-B is a way of life.
Real estate listings in Austin often say “near H-E-B.” And which store you are near matters, as each store adapts to its local neighborhood. The store we frequent in South Austin is almost always buzzing with activity, and I’ve noticed the store attracts a wide variety of shoppers, which is not true down the street at Whole Foods.
It’s more fun to shop at H-E-B, there’s no question about that.
H-E-B helps to boost other beloved Texas brands. For instance, Whataburger sells its condiments, pancake mix and more at H-E-B.
One Texas company that does not have shelf space at H-E-B is Austin-based YETI. Instead, the manufacturer of high-end coolers and other gear for hunters and anglers faces competition from H-E-B’s Kodi Coolers line.
The price points for what appear to be identical products are not identical.
H-E-B is a family-owned chain with 340 stores in Texas and 55 in Mexico. Forbes lists the San Antonio-based grocer as the nation’s 12th largest privately held company.