By Lorrie Baumann
Just in case Texans didn’t have enough reasons to be proud of their state already, Market Street takes July of every year as an opportunity to add to those with a Best of Texas expo that helps Texans get better acquainted with the food and beverage bounty produced in the Lone Star State.
This year’s Best of Texas expo featured products ranging from Beanitos chips, Rhythm Kale Chips and Mrs. Renfro’s Salsa for the appetizer course to Scoops Ice Cream and Sticky Toffee Pudding along with about three dozen other brands and product categories that all originated in Texas.
“We do three or four of those kinds of events through the year. Best of Texas may be everyone’s favorite because our guests expect us to feature local products and provide them with local products,” said Eddie Owens, Director of Communications and Public Relations for United Supermarkets, LLC., the parent company of Market Street, which is coming up on its tenth anniversary in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.
United now has 57 stores in Texas under four brands: United Supermarkets (36 stores), Market Street (11 stores), Amigos (three stores) and United Express (seven free-standing convenience stores and 18 other fuel stations with walk-in kiosks). A new United Supermarkets location and another Market Street store are under construction, and a new Amigos store, a brand designed for Hispanic communities, is scheduled to be built next year.
Market Street, the company’s specialty foods retail chain, is known in north and west Texas for three annual month-long expos: Best of Texas, Healthy New You, which focuses on health and wellness and is held in January, and Entertaining Made Easy, which takes place each November.
Healthy New You includes some regular vendors, especially those who make health and body care products, and health screenings are also offered through nonprofit partners like American Diabetes Association. The Best of Texas expo is a sampling event with stations located throughout the stores. “We featured at least one product from every department of the store each weekend. If you came in the first weekend in July, you would not see the same products that you would see the second weekend,” Owens said.
The showcase for Texas products meets a need for Market Street guests, who, along with many other Americans, are increasingly more concerned about food safety and ethics. “There is a growing urgency for folks who want to know where their products are coming from. They want to buy close to home,” Owens said. “We’re trying to meet that need. We’re hoping that once they’re exposed to those products, guests will keep coming back to purchase them.”
Customers are also encouraged to keep coming back by a vigorous social media effort along with Market Street’s weekly newspaper advertising. The expo events are marketed in the weekly ads as well as in ROP (run-of-press) ads in the same editions of the newspapers during the weeks in which the expo is happening. Notices are also pushed out on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. The expos are celebrated with occasional radio remotes as well. “The whole point is to generate some excitement,” Owens said.
In addition to the events that take place in all 11 Market Street stores, there are two Market Streets in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex that include cooking schools. Both of those stores are larger than the other nine Market Street stores, which range from 65,000 to 71,000 square feet, and include a larger kitchenware department as well as a classroom and demonstration area that are large enough for hands-on classes taught by the company’s corporate chef and other chefs from the community and staffed by Market Street team members who handle registrations, clean-up and all the other tasks associated with running a successful culinary education program.
“On the other end of the scale, there’s a new store under construction in Flower Mound that’s downsized to only 55,000 square feet,” Owens said. He noted that United has been seeking to enter the Flower Mound market for several years, and the store will face heavy competition from other grocery chains that operate 16 competitive stores within five miles of the new Market Street location. “We think that this store is going to be our prototype for new stores for the foreseeable future. We think we can compete better with this size store,” he said.