Trader Joe’s, the offbeat grocer whose most popular products include frozen chicken tikka masala, pumpkin ice cream and low-cost Charles Shaw wines nicknamed “Two Buck Chuck,” is expanding into Texas with stores planned in Houston and Dallas.
Specific locations have not been named, but the California-based company said in an email Tuesday that it has wanted to be in Texas for a long time.
“We are a company that grows in a very controlled and thoughtful way in order to maintain the Trader Joe’s customer experience,” spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki said. “We’re excited about bringing Trader Joe’s to the wonderful cities, towns and neighborhoods in and around Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and beyond.”
The company said it is looking for sites but would not say when new stores would open.
Trader Joe’s started in the 1950s as a small chain of convenience stores called Pronto Markets.
In 1967, founder Joe Coulombe made the stores bigger, covered the walls in cedar planks, had the employees dress in Hawaiian shirts and changed the name.
Today, Trader Joe’s operates a chain of stores that over the years has developed a cultlike following.
The company sells a line of private-label items and says it is able to keep costs low by buying in volume and directly from suppliers whenever possible. It has more than 350 locations in 29 states.
Keener said Houston has been “crying out” for a hip concept like Trader Joe’s that can open in an urban location on a smaller site than most traditional grocery stores.
Trader Joe’s stores are typically 10,000 to 15,000 square feet, which would allow them to be built in close-in areas where land is at a premium, he said.
Keener expects the company’s site search to focus on Inner Loop locations with a young demographic like Washington Avenue or near Memorial Park. But areas like The Woodlands, with its affluent and educated population, could also be a good market for Trader Joe’s.