The oldest H-E-B in San Antonio on Nogalitos Street has sold its last "Combo Loco" but a new supermarket is being built in its place to be the store of the future.
In 1945, throngs of eager customers gathered for the store’s grand opening with its shiny new, curved block windows in the art deco style of the day.
Almost 100 people gathered again Monday for the store’s final sale, which went to its longest customer, 99-year-old David Reyna. His daughters, Beatrice Reyna Cantu and Rosalie Reyna Lopez, showed off the rusted metal wagon, still in good shape, that made many trips for groceries when they were young.
“I was about six years old," Cantu said. "My sister, Rosalie, was seven."
The sisters said their parents would pull the two of them in the wagon and leave it outside while the family shopped – it was never stolen. Then they would pack it full of groceries to take home.
“We’d get maybe $15 of groceries and really pack the wagon up. It was amazing what you could get for $15,” Cantu said.
“In those days, we had only one car," Lopez said. "My mother would bring us in the wagon, walking from four or five blocks away and come to the grocery store and get groceries and walk back. And it was fun for us."
The new store will be built in the same footprint, doubling in size with two floors for shopping and large escalators that will carry customers and their shopping carts up and down and to parking underneath. H-E-B spokeswoman Dya Campos said the historic part of the store, the deco blocks, will be restored to their original condition and retained as a wall in front of the building.
“The façade has been taken so far out of character from its original design back in the 1940s," Campos said. "It has several versions of stucco on it and paint and plaster. So we will actively restore the wall to its original design of the 1940s."
Campos said the neighborhood groups H-E-B met with were excited about having a new store in the same location.
“And we did hear from the San Antonio Conservation Society that expressed concern in wanting us to save some portion of the old façade of the building or something to honor that the store has been here so long, and the art deco design,” Campos said.
The plan is to open the new store in December. Campos said the store will have a training session on using the escalators before the store’s grand opening.