Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Smetana Grocery

Picture from May 2021. It's hard to capture this building in one shot.


Smetana Grocery is one of those old rural Exxon stores with the store name in a large red rectangle on the building, and originally opened back in 1972. It didn't become an idea for a post until I noticed an ad copy in a 1989 phone book. I didn't scan it (no logos, just text) but it is reproduced below:

SMETANA GROCERY


SPECIALIZING IN HORMONE FREE BEEF B3-R BRAND
  • HOMEMADE POLISH SAUSAGE
  • PARTY TRAYS & BEER KEGS
  • BIODYNAMICALLY GROWN ORGANIC VEGETABLES (IN SEASON)
  • WELEDA HEALTH FOOD PRODUCTS
  • CAFE ALTURA COFFEE

775-9337


EXXON & OTHER MAJOR CREDIT CARDS
2 1/2 Miles West of Loop 2818 W Hwy. 21.....775-9337
Well, I was intrigued. Who knew that some rural gas station was selling a bunch of organic health foods and products that regular groceries at the time wouldn't touch? And this gas station is still in business today at 7700 Highway 21? And it's a 12-sided building with two stories? I had to check it out.

With the relatively recent passing of Brazos Natural Foods (mentioned over at this post which is in need of a re-do one of these days), there's no dedicated store for "natural" and "upscale" foods, but even before the situation last year, those types of stores were dropping off, with Earth Fare and Lucky's Market both closing in high-profile bankruptcies.

Sadly, but expectedly, this is not the case here. The merchandise mix is very much ordinary convenience store fare. The few notable exceptions are some bulk items that I'm not sure were meant to be sold as retail, like frozen Hunt Brothers Pizza, but there's no gourmet items, no produce. It also is no longer an Exxon, transitioning to Citgo between 2012 and 2016.

It's dark and dusty up there. The big white glow is sunlight coming in from a window above.


The mysterious upper level only seems to include storage. It doesn't look like living space...or anything finished at all. The current building was built in 1986 and appears to have added the gas station. (The older building pre-dated 1972 and may have a different name originally as it still had a parking area). Oh, and one more thing--it's not great, but here's my attempt at stitching two photos together to make a more panoramic view.