Keaton Fox, NBC 5 News
High demand for HEB grocery stores has some wondering when and where in North Texas the company might expand next.
Going to the grocery store is a routine task for most. Research shows the two main factors in choosing a store: how close it is and price.
But shoppers in the southern part of the Metroplex say they have a hidden gem -- HEB grocery stores.
"Once you go into an HEB, you want one in your community, that's just the way it is," said Eli Daniels, the HEB store manager in Burleson. "We thrive on that, it excites us. We want to be different."
The San Antonio-based chain has slowly been creeping into North Texas, with three stores now in Burleson, Granbury and Waxahachie. But the possibility of new stores in the DFW market could be on the horizon.
The idea isn't new -- in 1999, speaking with a grocer industry magazine, a company spokesman said the supermarket chain hoped to build at least a dozen new stores over the next decade. But that hasn't panned out.
So far, the next best hope is an empty piece of land on Boat Club road in Fort Worth, which was recently bought by HEB. They bought another empty piece of land in Grand Prairie.
Meanwhile, at the Burleson store, the parking lot is often full and aisles are crowded with shoppers. Daniels says the demand is huge.
"Because there's such a pent-up demand for HEB in this area -- I mean, we're pulling people as far away as Denton, the mid-cities, Grapevine, Arlington. Every weekend, I see customers here driving 30, 40 or 50 miles to get here to HEB to see kind of, what all the hoopla is about," said Daniels.
Even with high demand, the company sent NBC 5 a statement saying they "don't have any current plans to open additional stores in DFW at this time."
While customers wait for possible expansion, HEB's potential competitors say they're ready.
Kroger is the nation's largest chains, and second in Dallas-Fort Worth behind Walmart.
"We know there are many competitors, they're new competitors coming in every day, some competitors leaving. We know we have to earn their business," said Gary Huddleston, who works for Kroger.
HEB's other brand, "Central Market," has about a dozen stores in the area. The company says they are focusing on growing and expanding that brand as well.