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Arlan’s Market Embraces Neighborhood Approach

Ames Arlan and son Nick Arlan

Expands to areas where grocery stores are needed

by Mary Margaret Stewart, staff writer

Ames Arlan started sacking groceries at age 16, where he fell in love with the business. He knew for some time he wanted to own a grocery store. Today, he owns and operates several Arlan’s Market locations in Texas with his son, Nick, VP and general manager.

“He will take over for me someday,” Arlan said. “Hopefully not too soon, but we hope to keep the business in the family and going for years to come for future generations.”

Arlan’s will have been in business for 30 years come February.


In January 1991, Arlan purchased his first store, a location that was on the brink of shutting down. Shortly after buying it, the Arlan family moved to the same neighborhood where it was located, which worked well.

“We were able to have my wife involved…she handles a lot of stuff that have to do with insurance and things like that,” he said.

“My daughter worked for a while in high school, but she was like, ‘Dad, I think I want to be a school teacher,’ and I understand. But her husband, my son-in-law, he started four or five years ago as a store manager and management. And now, he’s our merchandiser for the company.

“My brother was working for us for a few years, and he just retired. My sister-in-law works at one of the stores.”

Nick Arlan was 10 years old when his dad bought the store, where he eventually began to hang out.

“It was the type of neighborhood I could ride my bike around – I could ride my bike to the store,” he said. “During the summers, I would help out in the bakery, as far as wrapping bread and breaking out the dough and the cookies for the next day – doing stuff like that.

“I became a sacker and worked my way up through that. Then, when I was about 17 or 18, I became an assistant manager in the evenings and just kind of stuck with it.

“It was a family business, so it was always part of the family.”

(From left) John Smith, son-in-law of Ames Arlan, stands with Nick and Ames Arlan.

And while the elder Arlan acknowledges that it’s nice to have his family involved, the store also has “a lot of people that have been with us a long time that we feel like are all part of the family,” he said.

“We build relationships with the customers,” his son added. “We hire from the neighborhood, especially the hourly employees. A lot of times, it’s the teenagers working on the weekends…they stay with us from high school, and they go off to college, and they come back for Christmas break, and they’re working with us again. You get to know their families.”

And Ames Arlan recalled a time when the associates and customers alike gave back, without question or anything in return.

“When Hurricane Harvey hit [in 2018], we had every store around us stay closed for days. But I called Nick. I knew my street was flooded, and Nick has a house about three or four blocks away,” he said. “I told him I would meet him at the end of the street, and we’re going to get that store open, no matter what.

“I waded down, got in his truck, and we got there. We started just asking for volunteer help to come in. And we ended up selling everything to the bare walls because we couldn’t get really any inventory for a few days, but we are the only grocery store around.”

Nick Arlan added, “During those times…we even had people that hadn’t worked with us in years – they’d gone on and started their own careers, and they just showed up just ready to work to help us during those times. One particular person brought in his new wife and put her to work, too. They’re engineers now, but they were still there to help us.”

Part of the dedication from communities in which they serve comes from Arlan’s expanding to areas where grocery stores are needed.

“Our first opportunity to expand was two stores that were going to be foreclosed on. They weren’t making any money, and they had not had any type of upkeep,” Ames Arlan said.

Arlan's“We found a niche by going into some of these neighborhood stores…and we would get enough financing that we would be able to remodel them. Sometimes they hadn’t been remodeled in 25 or 30 years. Upgrade them and make it something that the neighborhood again was proud of…proud to be able to go in and shop to buy their produce and to see their neighbors.

“We always try to make that extra effort. When we know the customers really need a store to be there, we did that…we’re always striving to just be a little bit better when it comes to what the neighborhood needs…no matter what it might be.”

And to this day, the first Arlan’s location in Seabrook, Texas is “still a neighborhood store for us,” said Nick Arlan, which he likened to having another family member.

My daughter goes to the elementary school that is less than a block away from the store. You can see it from the store,” he said.

His father added, “All our grandkids live in the neighborhood, right down the street from the store, so it’s very much part of our family. I’m not in any hurry to retire.

“I hope we can continue to grow. I just got two new knees, so I’m ready to go.”

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