How HEB Helped Texas During Winter Storm

Texans Needed Food and Comfort After a Brutal Storm. As Usual, They Found It at H-E-B.

As state government flounders, has a beloved grocery store chain become “the moral center of Texas”?
AUSTIN, Texas — The past week had been a nightmare. A winter storm, one of the worst to hit Texas in a generation, robbed Lanita Generous of power, heat and water in her home. The food she had stored in her refrigerator and freezer had spoiled. She was down to her final five bottles of water.

“I have never felt so powerless,” Ms. Generous, a copywriter, said.

But on Sunday, as the sun shined and ice thawed in Austin, Ms. Generous did the same thing as many Texans in urgent need of food, water and a sense of normalcy: She went to H-E-B.

“They’ve been great,” she said, adding with just a touch of hyperbole: “If it hadn’t been for the bread and peanut butter, I would have died in my apartment.”

H-E-B is a grocery store chain. But it is also more than that. People buy T-shirts that say “H-E-B for President,” and they post videos to TikTok declaring their love, like the woman clutching a small bouquet of flowers handed to her by an employee: “I wish I had a boyfriend like H-E-B. Always there. Gives me flowers. Feeds me.”

The storm and its devastation have tested a notion of independence that is deeply ingrained in Texas, a sense that Texans and their businesses can handle things on their own without the intrusion of outsiders or the shackles of regulation.

It is an ideology evident in Texas’ decision to have a power grid of its own, one that was 
pushed by the storm to the edge of collapse and was a source of fury as millions were left without electricity during the worst of the frigid conditions.

But for many Texans, H-E-B reflected the ways the state’s maverick spirit can flourish: reliable for routine visits but particularly in a time of disaster, and a belief that the family-owned chain — with the vast majority of its more than 340 locations inside state lines — has made a conscious choice to stay rooted to the idea of being a good neighbor.

“It’s like H-E-B is the moral center of Texas,” said Stephen Harrigan, a novelist and journalist who lives in Austin. “There seems to be in our state a lack of real leadership, a lack of real efficiency, on the political level. But on the business level, when it comes to a grocery store, all of those things are in place.”

Click Here to read the full article courtesy of the New York Times

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