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Jan 8, 2011 07:15 AM

Seeking Gourmet Stores in Houston region

Hi, I'm coming to Houston to visit Gourmet Grocery Stores with good selection of oils, cheeses and specialty/gourmet items, smaller independents of most interest, will view larger ones too. Thanks...Keep shining...Tom

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  1. Well as usual, I will open with Phoenicia Market on Westheimer just west of Kirkwood. It's a large one-off Mediterranean centered store with humble origins. It's one of my favorite stores.

    Along Bellaire on both sides of Beltway 8 are numerous large and small Oriental markets of all kinds. I like Hong Kong Market and I have heard good things about Welcome Market. By all means, do some exploring along there and let us know what you find.

    Across from Canino's Produce Market on Airline is Flores Spices. Love that place. If they have little bags of mole' next to the cash register, buy some. You will put me on your Christmas card list for the mole' alone.

    Liebmann's on Memorial is a neat little place with some unique items. Anne the cheese lady is a character.

    Any carneceria and there are hundreds of them. I go to La Michoacana on Briar Forest at Wilcrest but mostly because it is close to me.

    Daido Japanese Market at Wilcrest and Westheimer has some unique things including sushi grade seafood items.

    Fiesta is a growing chain that originally centered on Latin American foods. It has great produce, seafood, etc., but much of what they were originally unique for is now pretty ubiquitous; (high quality tortillas, tomatillos, cabrito, etc).

    All of that is west and southwest.

    I would also recommend Spec's warehouse near downtown. I don't know where you're coming from, but in Texas all liquor is sold in package stores, (i.e. NOT at the supermarket). Spec's is our local liquor superstore and this is the superstoriest one of all. I really don't drink much, but whenever I am anywhere near downtown, I try to make Spec's for their grocery and deli section.

    Great food city. I love it here. ;-)

    Have fun and let us know what you find and like or hate.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DoobieWah

      Hey thanks much, Houston has a lot to offer, I'll check into it. I've been meaning to check into Specs, I'll give it a go. Tom

    2. I just checked your profile after posting this and have realized that your an oil salesman, (presumably olive), looking for leads.

      I could have given you much better and more pointed advice had you just said that to begin with.

      Phoenicia and Spec's still apply. Most of the others do not.

      Good luck.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DoobieWah

        Hi DoobieWah, I guess I ought to have done so, I am checking it all out both for business and personal interest, I love the gourmet shops, they offer so much that others don't. And, yup, I have a real nice line of culinary oils, looking for outlets, blend of EVOO and GrapeSeed Oil. Keep rocking...T

      2. There is a shop in The Woodlands mall that strictly does oils maybe give them a shot

        2 Replies
        1. re: ac1488

          I'll have a look at them, thanks AC. T

          1. re: ac1488

            It's called Oil and Vinegar. Of course, there's also Hubbel & Hudson in the Woodlands, but you probably know that already.

          2. There is a very small little gourmet shop trying to get a foothold in the Katy region. It's called Frana la Bodeguita. It's in the Villagio shopping center, adjacent to 3 Olives Restaurant, and run by the same folks. They do offer some imported fine oils, and might be a good prospect for you. In addition, they're involved in the operation of three restaurants in Villagio: 3 Olives, Bistro 829, and Babaloo, a new Latino/Caribbean/Cuban/Tapas bar & restaurant. Not sure if you want to sell wholesale to restaurants, but think it might be worth a stop.


            Bistro 829
            829 S. Mason Road, Katy, TX 77450

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jaymes

              Thanks Jaymes, sounds like a fun stop, I'll give it a go. Keep 'm smiling...Tom

            2. Central Market is another one to check out. Note they are not Houston-based (Central Market is Austin-based; the parent company, HEB, is based in San Antonio).

              If you are trying to sell in your oil brand, I would recommend checking out the Kroger on Buffalo Speedway at Westpark. They do some local buying and are, I believe, the highest grossing Kroger in Houston (located in a high income area). They buy a lot of those SKUs through a local wholesaler. Post contact info if you'd like details on that.

              Net net: if you hit Central Market, Spec's, Phoenicia, Liebmann's and the high-end Kroger I mentioned, you are covering a great majority of the gourmet supermarket shopping in Houston.

              Have fun!

              5 Replies
              1. re: WtotheN

                One more thing to consider: Central Market is VERY open to sampling/demo opportunities, Spec's appears to be open to it (but with somewhat less floor space available for it), and I've never seen a manned sample station at Phoenicia. Without knowing what kinds of brands you are dealing in, that may make a difference.

                1. re: WtotheN

                  Thanks for the input WtotheN, I will check out the Krogers, the others are on the list as well. I am from Idaho so won't be able to do much demo-ing this go round, but maybe will find a local demo person to help. Keep rocking...Tom

                  1. re: travelingwith oil

                    Won't hurt to give Central Market a try, of course. It sounds like a good idea, and it sounds easy. But I can tell you that a few years back, I was commercially bottling and selling my salad dressing. Central Market seemed like a natural and obvious fit, especially considering that I had a contact at that company.

                    But, despite the fact that I was having it bottled at a well-known private-label independent bottler in San Antonio and it was selling really well and I had all the legalities in order (permits, food inspection certificates, shelf-life statements, ingredient analysis, health department licenses, proper labeling, bar code, etc.) and $2 million in liability insurance coverage, when I spoke with my contact at Central Market, he told me that they wouldn't even meet with anyone that didn't have some astronomical amount of insurance coverage - I've forgotten the exact amount, but it may have even been so high as $100 million or so. Whatever it was, I couldn't afford the premiums.

                    Anyone interested in selling a product to Central Market will save themselves considerable time if they first check to see what the requirements are before they attempt to make an appointment to actually speak with them and make a product presentation.

                    1. re: Jaymes

                      Hey Jaymes, thanks for the meaningful input, much appreciated. I have contacted Ctl Mkt in the past and it will be an uphill approach, but will certainly inquire as to insurance, etc. Keep 'm smiling...Tom

                      1. re: travelingwith oil

                        Well, if you have a large company with deep pockets behind you, or access to a more grander line of credit than I did, it's certainly worth a shot. With my salad dressing, I was selling quite a bit of it through the smaller gourmet, gift & specialty stores and wholesale to a few restaurants in the area, but couldn't manage the big insurance premiums that CM required.

                        And it seems like there were a few other difficulties, requirements, etc., as well.

                        In addition, it was a side business for me. I also owned a travel agency at the time, and most of my efforts, energy and resources were tied up with that, so I didn't give it my all.

                        But obviously, it can be done. They sell lots of items, some of which are clearly from smaller, independent companies. So if you already have a large insurance policy, or a tidy wad of cash, and are determined, I'm sure it would be worth it.

                        Good luck.