Thursday, August 26, 2010

What's Up With Joe? Texas Grocer H-E-B Planning 'Major Announcement' About its Joe V's Smart Shop Soon

New Format Development in the 21rst Century

We've been closely following Texas-based grocer H-E-B's Joe V's Smart Shop price-focused discount grocery store in Houston, Texas (12035 Antoine Drive) since before it opened in May of this year for four main reasons. Those reasons are:

H-E-B is among a handful of the best food and grocery retailers in the United States - and globally. Number two follows from that premise, which is that anything new H-E-B does - particularly when it's a brand new discount grocery store format like Joe V's, discount grocery retailing being something that H-E-B doesn't specialize in - warrants close following by any serious food and grocery retailing analyst and publication. Third: New formats matter. Innovation matters. And lastly, we plain just love new formats.

Below are our past stories about H-E-B's Joe V's Smart Shop:

>May 5, 2010: H-E-B Opens Joe V's Smart Shop Discount Prototype Grocery Store in Houston TX ... But Where's Joe?

>May 6, 2010: Say it Ain't So Joe: Trader Joe's Tells H-E-B's Joe V's Smart Shop to Change its Name

>May 20, 2010: H-E-B Tweaking Product Assortment at Joe V's Smart Shop Discount Grocery Store in Texas Opened May 5

>May 20, 2010: 'The Insider': Welcome to Discountopia USA

Inside Joe V's Smart Shop in Houston Texas: Joe V's has all of the traditional supermarket grocery and fresh foods departments. The format features a limited-item selection. The focus is on everyday low price, although H-E-B has a weekly advertising circular for Joe V's, offering specials. The Joe V's Smart Shop format also features price-focused in-and-out deals on non-foods items, like the comforters pictured above.

As you can see, it's been three months since we last wrote about Joe V's Smart Shop. But we've been following the store's development closely - perhaps closer than any other food and grocery retailing publication out there.

And something 'Big' is is about to happen in Joe V's land, deep in the heart of Texas.

That something big is a soon to be made "Major Announcement" by H-E-B about its Joe V's Smart Shop, according to Joe V's general manager Jose (Joe) Villarreal, who might or might not be the "Joe" behind the name of the start up, price-focused grocery chain's name? Or as he likes to day about Joe V's: "Are you ready to deliver the best Price Format Store in Texas"

Mr. Villarreal is sworn to secrecy in terms of publicly declaring he is that Joe. Therefore readers, you'll have to make your own determination on the judgement for now.

Jose (Joe) Villarreal is also sworn to secrecy on the content of what he says will be this upcoming "Major Announcement." But he says it will be "Big" - and that it's coming soon.

Unable to pry anything further out of the man outside of resorting to water boarding, Fresh & Easy Buzz has decided to attempt to predict what the upcoming "Major Announcement" from H-E-B about its Joe V's Smart Shop just might be. Our five predictions go from most likely to least likely below:

1. H-E-B will announce it plans to open a second Joe V's Smart Shop store in the Houston, Texas region.

2. H-E-B will announce it's settled the trademark law suit filed by grocer Trader Joe's - in which TJ's argues the Joe V's Smart Shop name is an infringement on the Trader Joe's name, asking a court to order H-E-B to cease from using the Joe V's name for the store - and therefore can continue using the Joe V's Smart Shop name for the chain.

See: Say it Ain't So Joe: Trader Joe's Tells H-E-B's Joe V's Smart Shop to Change its Name. The case is still in court. The court has permitted H-E-B to continue using the Joe V's Smart Shop name until the case is settled or a decision ordered by the court.

3. H-E-B will announce it will change the name from Joe' V's Smart Shop to something else. See number two.

4. H-E-B will announce it plans to open a second Joe V's Smart Shop store in Texas, but outside of the Houston Metro region.

5. Jose (Joe) Villarreal will announce (perhaps at a "Major" press conference) that he is indeed the "Joe" behind the Joe V's Smart Shop name. An executive of Trader Joe's, attending the press conference, will shout: "Say it ain't so - Joe," over and over again, following Joe Villarreal's announcement.

Since the announcement is coming soon, we encourage the many food and grocery retailing experts and keen industry observers who read Fresh & Easy Buzz to chime in using the comments link below.

Which one of our predictions do you think is correct? None? What's your prediction?


Damien said...

I hope it is #5 - that would be a major coup. I don't know if Aldi Nord is selling TJ to HEB?

I need to sleep on that.

Anonymous said...

Number one. I'm hearing through the grapevine a second Joe V's Smart Shop is coming to the Houston area.