I consider myself very fortunate to live in Texas.
Barring the 105-degree days weâve been having lately, there are quite a few perks. For starters, I can wear shorts in January, and the barbeque is pretty tasty.
But the best thing, hands-down, about living where I do is the produce department.
I often gush about the bounty to be had here. Produce departments are bigger, brighter, fresher and just â¦ well, Iâm going to sound like a Texan, but really, theyâre better than anywhere else Iâve been.
It could be that Texas is pretty much the meeting point of fresh food in this country. Weâre half way to everywhere and the first stop as shipments make their trek from Mexico to north of the Rio Grande.
I would be remiss, however, if I did not acknowledge the influence the Hispanic community has on retailers. A major force in the Austin area is San Antonio-based H.E. Butt Co. The privately owned chain has a strong presence in South Texas and along the border in Mexico.
It continues to extend its reach from San Antonio, where it commands three-fourths of the market share to Dallas and Houston.
Combine HEB stores with Houston-based Fiestas and youâve got a powerful draw for the Latino shopping dollar.
Could the booming Hispanic population bring these glorious produce departments to a retailer near you?
Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion LLC already is on the ball. The company is expanding its âSabor Latinoâ (Latin Flavor) stores after an initial five-store trial.
According to news reports, the company plans to convert 22 more stores in the next couple of months to the platform, bringing the total to 59, or about 10% of its total stores with a Hispanic focus.
Details are scarce, but it seems the âSabor Latinoâ focus includes brands, signs and products geared toward drawing Hispanic shoppers.
Not everyoneâs thrilled about the change, however.
The majority of respondents for an online article of the Raleigh, N.C., News and Observer said they were going to take their dollars elsewhere â one in particular saying he was glad nearby towns had Wal-Mart Supercenters.
That person obviously doesnât realize that the worldâs largest retailer â Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., already has its own programs and focus to reach Hispanic customers. Any smart retailer would.
The outspoken News and Observer readers bring me to a new point. Iâd love to hear what you have to say about my articles. You can leave feedback at www.thepacker.com/retail on every article posted to The Packerâs Web site. I probably wonât call you crazy â but I donât give any guarantees.
E-mail email@example.com. Pamela Riemenschneider is editor of Produce Merchandising magazine and covers the retail industry for The Packer.