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Innovator of the Year Southwest

H-E-B Design Plans For Locations Focus On Local Communities

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Inviting, inspirational art greets shoppers, enhances stores’ identities

When H-E-B decides to locate a new store, one of its key focuses is on the local community. Input from residents is important in the overall design and another reason the grocer is The Shelby Report of the Southwest’s Innovator of the Year.

In terms of design elements, H-E-B continues to focus on sustainability and being environmentally friendly. This includes waste diversion efforts such as recycling and composting, energy efficient practices, and landscaping with native plants to help reduce water consumption.

We will continue to evolve those design elements as we grow and learn what works well in specific communities,” said Roxanne Orsak, H-E-B Chief Operating Officer.

The sustainability elements are also being incorporated into remodeling projects at stores, warehouses, and other supply chain facilities, said Juan-Carlos Rück, H-E-B Executive VP of North West Food Drug.

In addition, H-E-B includes art installations at its stores. According to Winell Herron, H-E-B Group VP of Public Affairs, Diversity and Environmental Affairs, the company has been a longtime supporter of the arts.

She said the company has partnered with local artists to create a unique shopping experience at many stores across the state, resulting in “a very special and tailored sense of place that complements the local community.”

At the site of the new Frisco H-E-B, there are eight different art installations featured in a community greenspace next to the store, which includes metal sculptures of fruit. Another example is a bench built using a series of mosaic tiles painted by H-E-B Partners and community members such as teachers, fire fighters and community leaders.

“Art is fun, unique, and inspirational. It allows us to connect with the local community,” Herron said.

She added that not every store has an art installation, but many do. At four H-E-B stores in Houston, the company worked with local artists to reinforce its commitment to the arts and to “highlight some of the talented artists across the state.”

“It differentiates our stores from others, but more importantly it’s an opportunity to create a unique sense of place and highlight fabulous local Texas artists,” Herron said.

H-E-B has commissioned art installations at a number of its stores for over 20 years. At a store in Wimberley that was built on the site of a closed school, Orsak said H-E-B took part of the basketball court flooring and incorporated the pieces into the store décor.

“When customers come to shop, they see parts of their old school at the store,” she said, noting that includes the old scoreboard and some of the bleachers.

Orsak reiterated that local approach. “Again, it all goes back to being part of the community and creating a sense of place that is really important to us and our customers,” she said.

When designing stores, H-E-B’s design team learns what is important to surrounding neighborhoods to create stores that reflect what is important to customers and local communities. They will eat at local restaurants and often engage with customers and community leaders.

“Our designers have the talent and freedom to create what they believe best reflects the culture of H-E-B and the communities we serve. Their artistic ability shines in every project.”

Rück added that he’s had the “unique experience” of spending time with H-E-B’s designers, day, and night, seeing the same location in the morning and evening. “That’s when I realized that designers are always looking everywhere except straight ahead of them.”

While Rück was walking and looking forward, he said “their heads are on swivels and they’re seeing things that I would have never seen…they are artists.”

Herron agreed that H-E-B has “incredibly talented and creative Partners” who understand the company’s vision. She cited as an example a Partner who designed a bike rack in the form of a carrot for the Frisco location.

“We were discussing a simple bike rack for residents biking to the store from Frisco neighborhoods, and the designer created a really cool work of art,” she said.

To view the full Innovator of the Year section on H-E-B by The Shelby Report, click here.

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