Groundbreaking was held Jan. 31 for the first new grocery store building in Pecos in almost 50 years, and the community is excited about the new venture.
Several key members of United Supermarkets and individuals who helped bring in the grocery chain to Pecos were on-hand Friday morning for a groundbreaking ceremony.
The ceremony, which was originally going to be held at the site of the new store, 2783 S. Cedar St., was moved to the Reeves County Civic Center due to the rain and snow flurries that hit the area last Thursday night and Friday.
“We will open a store in Pecos, Texas, in late 2020. We’ve been part of West Texas for more than 70 years, with stores in small, rural communities and anchors in larger cities like Amarillo and Lubbock,” said Robert Taylor, CEO of United. “Our expansion into the Permian Basin several years ago gave us the opportunity to provide guests with new levels of service, tailoring each store across the United trade area to meet the unique needs of the community being served, just as the oil industry brought unprecedented population growth,” he added.
Taylor said that they are hoping to open the store by Thanksgiving of this year.
“If things go right and we don't run into a lot of problems, that's what we would like,” he said.
United Supermarkets, LLC is a 104-year-old Texas-based grocery chain with stores in 53 communities in Texas and New Mexico. The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Albertson's LLC, which is also the current owner of Safeway, which built the last new supermarket in Pecos in the early 1970s. Safeway would leave in the late 1980s, but the building current houses La Tienda Thriftway, the city’s only supermarket.
Pecos had five supermarkets of varying sizes in the 1980s, but most closed due to the area’s economic downturn. That changed beginning 12 years ago with the current oil drilling boom, as the area’s population is estimated to have doubled since 2010.
United currently operates 94 stores under five different brands: United Supermarkets, Market Street, Amigos, Albertson's Market and United Express.
United’s Pecos store will be 44,000 square feet and will include a full-service bakery, sushi bar, full-service deli, in addition to a meat market with an in-house butcher for custom meat cutting. An extensive beer and wine selection will also be available, along with food service and a dining room.
The development will also include a 3,000 square foot United Express convenience store with 12-fueling positions, located closer to U.S. 285 (Cedar Street).
Sidney Hopper, president of The United Family, says the move into the booming Pecos market makes sense.
“We’ve had a successful e-commerce business in Pecos, so the natural next step is a full-service United Supermarkets grocery store and United Express fuel center,” Hopper said. “The food service and dining room will provide another place for people to gather. We like being a gathering place for the community, and we invest in the organizations that knit the community together. Pecos has been very welcoming, and we pledge to do our part in building up the community alongside our guests.
”Regional vice president John Jameson thanked the city and county officials who helped with this project, along with business owners Derek and Sandra Zubeldia and Pecos Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Ken Winkles.
Hopper said that they were very excited to be in Pecos and that this venture had started in April 2019. “We're just happy that now this will become a reality,” he said, who added that the Pecos community has been very welcome.
Winkles said this opening is one he is looking forward to.
“I believe that United Supermarkets is going to be a great community partner and is going to be a blessing to the citizens of Pecos and the surrounding communities,” he said.
Winkles said that there are two dates etched in his memory and that one was on Nov. 2, 2017, when a representative from United came to Pecos and met with him, and then on June 12, 2019, when the project was finalized and announced to the Enterprise, according to Winkles.
“I was made aware of that decision on June 5, so it was a long week, to keep the good news to myself,” said Winkles, who added that if people are persistent and patient, good things will come.
Winkles said that it took everyone in the community to bring this business to Pecos.
Town of Pecos City Mayor David Flores thanked the representatives from United Markets for being in Pecos.
“When we have something like this, companies usually send one or two people to speak on their behalf, but United Markets has brought a whole team with them to assure us that they are committed to this and to our community,” he said.
Flores said that he was glad that so many of them came, about 15 people, and it showed their dedication and commitment to this community.
“An additional grocery store has been something that the community has asked for and wished for, for more than a decade and today that wish will become a reality,” said Flores.
“Wonderful folks have chosen to call our community home, by building a brick and mortar store, United Markets has not only satisfied the desires of our citizens, but also fulfilling a true need of our community,” said Flores.
“As Pecos continues to grow as the heart of the basin oil patch, this grocery store will be bringing additional retail and housing opportunities, however, it will do more by bringing in more jobs that are not oilfield jobs, to our community and increasing our economic diversity,” he said.