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H-E-B, Scheels among eight regional powerhouses dominating their markets

H-E-B operates more than 430 stores in Texas and Mexico.

A new study highlights eight retail and restaurant regional powerhouses that are making a mark on their region.

Most of the brands in the new report from location and foot traffic analytics firm began as small, local companies focused on local wants and needs and have since grown into leading brands in their space.  Some have expanded, or are planning to expand, into new markets, while others are choosing to focus solely on their current region

“But although the different businesses have different approaches to expansion, all these companies have established a strong foothold in their respective markets and are well-positioned for future growth,” the report said.

Here’s an overview of the eight brands in the report:


• H-E-B: The Texas-based grocer, which has more than 430 stores in Texas and Mexico,  is the most popular grocery chain in the Lone Star State — and most recently ranked as the top U.S. grocery retailer in an annual study by Dunnhumby.

In 2022, H-E-B captured 47.7% of all grocery visits in Texas, while Kroger — the country’s largest supermarket retailer — captured 16.5% of the visit share, according to  As for foot traffic, H-E-B’s visits were up in 2022, with a 7% gain in foot traffic over pre-pandemic 2019.

According to’s assessment, H-E-B appeals to Texans’ sense of regional identity, and also has a reputation as an excellent employer, which likely means that its stores are well integrated in the communities they serve.  

• Food Lion: Founded as a community-funded grocery store in 1957, the North Carolina-based chain

has grown into a grocery behemoth, with more than 1,100 stores. under its banner. (Food Lion was acquired by Ahold Delhaize in 1974.) The chain has a strong foothold in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states and was the most popular grocery chain in North Carolina in 2022.

The chain is known for its commitment to giving back to the community through its Food Lion Feeds food pantry, which provided 158 free meals to people experiencing food insecurity in 2022.

Food Lion’s commitment to being a positive force in its communities has likely helped it establish itself as a go-to grocery destination for many in the region,  noted

Other regional players can take a cue from H-E-B and Food Lion.

Local pride can boost grocery visits. H-E-B and Food Lion have cultivated a devoted customer base by leaning into their regional characteristics and creating a community around their shopping experience,” advised

Convenience Stores

• Buc-ee’s: Based in Lake Jackson, Texas, Buc-ee’s is known for its massive stores and amenities, which range from its signature clean restrooms and showers to an extensive array of food options.

According to foot traffic data, Buc-ee’s is outperforming the already strong c-store category nationwide. Its January 2023 visits were 112.1% higher than three years prior, compared to a 22.8% year-over-three-years increase for the category nationwide. The retailer has also seen an increase in its share of longer visits over the past three years.

• Sheetz: With more than 660 stores across six states, Sheetz is expanding in existing markets and news ones. It will enter Michigan — its first new state in 20 years — in 2025.

Sheetz is part of the c-store revolution that's turning rest stops into culinary destinations. Its stores offer a wide array of made-to-order menu items.

Monthly visits to Sheetz have increased significantly in recent years, with December 2022 and January 2023 foot traffic elevated by 50.4% and 47.7%, respectively, Yo3Y.

Food and Dining

• Culver’s: Formerly known as Culver’s Frozen Custard and ButterBurgers, Culver’s operates nearly 900 restaurants across the Midwest. The company is known for its “ButterBurger,” (a burger with butter melted directly over it) frozen custards, and cheese curds. 

The company has expanded beyond its roots, opening in Florida and Georgia. The expansion is paying off. Visits and visitors grown year-over-year and Yo3Y, and average visits per venue have increased as well.

•Waffel House: Famed for staying open under almost any circumstances and with some of its locations open 24 hours, the Southern chain is  a consistently popular dining destination. Visits and visitors to Waffle House increased in 2022 when compared to both 2019 and 2021 numbers.


• Scheels: The employee-owned sporting goods and apparel chain has 30 stores across 15 states, with the majority in the Midwest. In recent years, it has opened in Arizona and Nevada. As it has expanded, Scheels’ foot traffic has remained strong. Its 2022 visits and visitors outperforming 2019 levels.

Scheels operates supersized stores that combine retail and entertainment. The retailer is best known for its customer experience and family-friendly amenities, including Ferris wheels and restaurants.

• WSS: Formerly known as Warehouse Shoe Sale, the specialty athletic retailer was acquired by Foot Locker in 2021. The chain operates some 9o off-mall stores in California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada and serves a largely Hispanic consumer base in underserved communities.

“The fact that residents of WSS’s trade area are less interested than the average consumer in buying shoes online but more interested in keeping up with new trends suggests that WSS has chosen ideal locations for its stores, which could explain some of the retailer’s success,” noted

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