In Texas, a grocery chain is now inspiring memes.
One goes like this: "State and federal resources are struggling to get into impacted areas. H.E.B. — outta the way, we're coming."
Another adds: "I’ll see your FEMA and Red Cross and raise you my Texas grocery store chain."
The images refer to the largest grocer in the state, H-E-B, with about 350 stores scattered throughout Texas and Mexico.
At a time when retail watchers question the future of brick-and-mortar stores due to Amazon's continued ascendance, the 112-year-old retailer is drawing widespread praise after managing to open 60 of its 83 stores in Houston last Sunday, hours after Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas as a Category 4 storm. (Now, 79 of the 83 stores are open.)
When employees couldn't get to work, some stores still operated with as few as five people: one stationed at the door as crowd control and four working the registers, trying to get people out as quickly as possible.
On Saturday morning, I spoke with Scott McClelland, a 27-year H-E-B veteran who is president of the chain's Houston division. For much of the week, he had worked from 5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., with days blurring together.