On November 26th, 1905, Florence Butt opened the C.C. Butt Grocery Store with her savings of $60 to support her ailing husband and three children. For $9 a month, she leased a 450-square-foot store on the ground floor of a small
frame building on Main Street in Kerrville, Texas. She eventually came to rely on her youngest son Howard to help out at the store after school and make grocery deliveries to Customers using a hand-drawn red wagon.
When Howard took over leadership of the family business, he moved to a cash and carry operation, opening more than 20 stores across South Texas from 1926 to 1930.
In 1931, H-E-B entered its largest city yet — Corpus Christi — with the purchase of three stores. In 1936, the captivating aroma of fresh bread overpowered the salt air around Corpus Christi when H-E-B opened the company’s first central bakery. The city is now home to a bread and tortilla plant that is responsible for providing tortillas to stores all over the state on a daily basis.
In 1937, H-E-B opened the first store with a vapor-cooled vegetable display counter and dedicated customer parking lot. Three years later, H-E-B moved its headquarters, including offices and warehouses, from Harlingen to Corpus Christi, Texas. This was the company’s second headquarter move since its inception in 1905.
Shortly after in 1940, Henry and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth, moved to Corpus Christi. Mary dedicated a great deal of her time to the community by serving as a health care advocate and an advocate for the improvement of literacy rates. She often allowed her home to be used as the headquarters for organizing the positive advancement of social issues by organizations such as the Nueces County Home for the Aged, the Nueces County Tuberculosis Hospital, the district American Cancer Society and the Y.W.C.A. Throughout her life, Mary also used the family home as a learning headquarters for young students, offering afternoon tutoring sessions in reading and English.
In 1943, Rosie the Riveter, a cultural icon in the United States, stopped by H-E-B in celebration of the company promoting its first female store manager, Ms. Bessie Schroeder, who managed a Corpus Christi location. By the end of the year, H-E-B promoted nine female store managers, all of whom remained with the company after World War II ended.
In 1949, a cool sigh of relief was felt across the Gulf Coast beach when H-E-B opened an ice cream plant in the area that featured a 15-gallon freezer. Three years later, H-E-B opened the first complete food and drug store in the entire United States in the city of Corpus Christi.
H-E-B also hosted the second Feast of Sharing dinner in Corpus Christi in 1989. Dozens of H-E-B Partners volunteered their time and energy to prepare hundreds of pounds of food by hand, and serve a free holiday meal to community members in need. In fact, the second H-E-B Feast of Sharing dinner in Corpus Christi was such a success, the tradition expanded to dozens of other cities in the Gulf Coast area, and eventually - throughout the entire state. Today, 31 dinners are held across Texas and in Mexico, with more than 250,000 meals served to communities.