Saturday, September 05, 2009

Name that Kroger!

In Houston, there seems to be a popular practice of assigning names to inside-the-loop Kroger stores based on characteristics such as the store's appearance, location, or the demographics of its clientele. I don't know how long ago this tradition came about or why it only involves Kroger-brand stores and not Randalls or HEB stores.

Anyway, Jeff Balke runs down the names for four inside-the-loop Kroger stores, starting with the best-known of the "named" Krogers:

Disco Kroger
Montrose at Hawthorne (near Westheimer)

The original. I don’t know when people started calling it Disco Kroger. I first started going there when I worked across the street. I also had my truck towed from there when I stupidly parked in its parking lot during a show at Tower Theater (you know it now as Hollywood Video – sigh). But, if you’ve ever been in there later at night, particularly on the weekends, you understand just how it got its name.

Ghetto Kroger
Shepherd at 11th

As far as I know, I’m the one that handed this Signature store with the name dating back to this post about how crappy that store can be. I first started going to Ghetto Kroger when it was decidedly less ghetto many MANY years ago. It was also significantly smaller. I’m told this will be the largest Kroger store in the US when re-modeling is complete. To understand its ghetto nature, all you have to do is go in there, see the construction and note ZERO signs saying “Please excuse our mess” or anything like that. I guess in a few months, we’ll have more ghetto to love.

Zombie Kroger
Shepherd at 20th

As outlined here, Zombie Kroger is so named because it is marked both by really sweet, exceedingly slow elderly people and a dearth of checkers most of the time. Plus, it seems to be in some sort of vortex that swallows normal time and has soda that looks like Windex.

Posh Kroger
West Gray at Dunlavy

Only recently this River Oaks store (pictured) got its name for both its clientele and the fact that you feel as if you are walking on diamond-encrusted floors and breathing caviar-infused air as you mill about in this hoity toity market. I see a blog post in my future.

Somebody in the comments also suggested that this last Kroger be named "Deco Kroger" due to the architectural style of the shopping center where it is located. My brother-in-law Danny has referred to this particular store as "Hot Chick" Kroger due to the number of attractive women who shop there.

Continuing Jeff's theme, here are names for four more inside-the-loop Kroger stores:

Combat Kroger
Cullen at Polk

If you attended school at the University of Houston, you probably shopped here. And you probably understood exactly why it was called Combat Kroger. Anyway, it might be an aging, grimy, understaffed, poorly-managed, run-down store in a sketchy part of town, but at least it usually has most of the things I'm looking for when I shop there. An added bonus is that I've never been mugged while shopping there. At least, not yet.

Buffalo Kroger
Westpark at Buffalo Speedway

One of Jeff's commenters suggests that this upscale Kroger Signature store nestled between Greenway Plaza and West University Place be called "Spanish Kroger" due to the Mediterrenean-style architecture of the shopping center in which it is located. Local Kroger management took the recent arrival of HEB's new Buffalo Merket across the street seriously enough to remodel and upgrade the entire store; clearly, they do not want this new competition to one day cause the store to be known as "HEB's Bitch."

Medical Kroger
Old Spanish Trail at Cambridge

Another one of Jeff's commenters believes that this particular store is a "ghetto Kroger" as well, but I've never gotten that impression shopping there (when your home store is Combat Kroger, after all, you're pretty forgiving). I've always called this store "Medical Kroger" simply due to its location near the Texas Medical Center. I'm curious if there are other names for this particular store.

Does-Anybody-Really-Shop-Here Kroger
South Main Street at Kirby Drive

This one isn't too far from Medical Kroger; I guess it could also be called "Reliant Kroger" due to its location close to Reliant Stadium. Visit this store sometime and the name will make sense; every time I've been there, the place has been practically deserted. My understanding is that this store used to be located at the now-moribund shopping center at the corner of Kirby and Braeswood, where it faced the residential neighborhoods it served. Then it was "upograded" into a characterless building down the street with its back turned towards the neighborhoods it used supposed to serve. Therefore nobody shops there anymore, at least in part due to the fact that cheaper groceries are available at both the Super Target and the Fiesta nearby.

Any others?


John said...

Funny - I used to live a couple of blocks from the "Zombie Kroger." It's an appropriate name, although I always referred to it as "Ghetto Kroger" whereas the 11th & Shepherd store was the "Big Kroger." It's decidedly un-ghetto now, because they're realized there's a yuppie contingent in the Heights to cater to.

But I actually prefer the Zombie/Ghetto Kroger; the people who work there are nicer. However, now i live near the Fiesta at 14th (no idea what to call it) and it's a more pleasant downscale shopping experience, mainly because instead of Kroger's video displays and commercials assaulting you, they just play bland music. And it has a rather good wine selection.

Supermarket naming is not unique to Houston though. In DC I shopped at the Soviet Safeway (in east Dupont Circle, named for the lines and stale bread), the Social Safeway (big pickup joint in Georgetown), or the Ghetto Giant (which really earned the name with gunfire in the parking lot). Or, in later years, the Temple of Food (the shiny glass fronted Whole Foods on P Street).

There, Safeway had an idea that is excellent for any urban area; mini-stored (with a different name, which escapes me now) which had a basic food selection, no push carts (it was totally pedestrian oriented), and you could get in and out FAST. I lived near one my first year there, and loved it; I wish there was something like that filling the gap between quick but gross/expensive mini-mart and the full-on grocery store experience.

Anonymous said...

Posh Kroger?!?!? Oh no, that is Hot Mom Kroger.

Anonymous said...

We have a "Fellini Kroger" in Knoxville, TN.