In January 1994, H-E-B Grocery Company officials opened the doors to a new concept ingrocery retailing: a 60,000-square-foot store focused solely on presenting the most unique array of fresh and prepared gourmet foods. As Director of Public Affairs for H-E-B, Kristy Ozmun helped lead the team that launched the first Central Market food emporium in Austin, Texas.
The team had to overcome a few public relations challenges. Located within a retail development on state-owned land, the plan to build the center was initially received with strong skepticism by area residents, not anxious to welcome a large retail development into their neighborhood.
Through in-depth strategic planning and a multi-faceted grassroots effort — including more than 70 meetings and forums in an 18-month period — H-E-B successfully obtained approval for development of a retail center, to be anchored by the Central Market store.
In the end, the neighborhood consensus overwhelmingly supported the now nationally acclaimed and highly successful Central Market. Ozmun’s public relations efforts on behalf of Central Market have produced hundreds of media impressions, including mentions on national newscasts and statewide saturation in broadcast and print media. Her impeccable community relations work won over neighborhood sentiment on what began as a controversial issue.
Central Market—the store that defied all retailing odds—has flourished into one of the nation’s destination points for food lovers everywhere. It has been so successful that there are now seven locations across Texas.