United Supermarkets Debuts Express Format

LUBBOCK, Texas — United Supermarkets [2] said Wednesday it opened its first stand-alone convenience store, called United Express, in its headquarters market here.

The company declined to say if or when it planned to open additional units. "For now we look at it as an opportunity to learn," Eddie Owens, director of communications, told SN.

The store, which features fresh foods along with a traditional c-store offering, plus six gas pumps, is 3,100 square feet — larger than a 1,500-square-foot convenience store here and two 2,500-square-foot stores in Frisco and Coppell, Texas, that operate under the name A Taste of Market Street — stores that are located on the same properties as full-size Market Street stores.

The new United Express is located on a 12-acre tract here on which the company plans to open a full-size United Supermarket within the next three years, Owens said.

He said United Express marks the fourth phase in the chain's growth in the fuel and convenience business. It opened its first fuel station in 1997; it has the three A Taste of Market Street convenience stores; and it was operating fuel kiosks at four stores here that have since been expanded into small c-stores with grab-and-go items only.

United plans to open fuel kiosks at other locations, Owens said.

According to Chris Bridgford, director of fuel and convenience operations, "Our goal with United Express is to take products such as prepared foods, which have been most successful in our A Taste of Market Street stores, as well as on-the-go convenience items, and blend them.

"If guests want to come in and get a bag of chips and a soft drink, they will be able to do that. But if they are looking for a nice tossed salad or some other quality meal solution — items you don't typically find in a convenience store — those are available as well."

United operates 51 stores across north and west Texas under four banners: United Supermarkets, Market Street, Amigos United and now United Express.