NewsletterUncategorized August 13, 2023

Monday Morning Coffee 8.14.23 – Home Price Growth and Inspiration

Builder activity in June sent residential construction spending up nearly 1% over May. Spending is still down from last year, but builders are now doing more single-family homes, up more than 2% for the month.

The CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) showed annual price growth edged up to 1.6% in June. Month-over-month price growth has slowed, yet CoreLogic expects annual price growth to reach about 7% by early 2024.

Inventory is heading back up. Zillow found nearly one quarter of homeowners either have their home listed for sale or are considering listing it in the next three years—4 in 10 of them in the next year.

“Always give without remembering and always receive without forgetting. ~ Brian Tracy

Most Texans have always assumed that Howard Edward Butt was the mastermind behind our state’s favorite grocery chain. The business is named for his initials, after all, and it’s time to correct that.

H-E-B is arguably the most beloved brand in the state, with roughly 430 stores and a well-oiled disaster-response machine that Texans trust more than the government in times of crisis, and it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Howard’s mother, Florence Thornton Butt, who opened the family’s first store, in the Hill Country town of Kerrville, in 1905. Florence, who after her attempt at door-to-door sales did not go so well, decided to open a grocery store to support her family.

The family purchased a two-story house, planning to live upstairs and operate the store downstairs. With investment capital of $60, the family opened the C.C. Butt Grocery Store on November 26, 1905. They began selling food in bulk as a charge and delivery operation. Florence’s young sons delivered the food via baby carriage until they could afford to buy a little red wagon.

By 1908 the Butt store had established itself within the local community as ‘dealers in staples, fancy groceries and fresh meats.’ The boys had even been able to buy a horse and wagon to make deliveries.

Also, Florence was building a profitable fresh-baked bread business as a sideline. She arranged for bread to be delivered by train from San Antonio and then immediately delivered to residences by her sons. The market for fresh bread was relatively new at the time because many women were hesitant to buy bread for fear of being considered too lazy to bake their own. Nevertheless, bread deliveries increased, initiating what would become a legacy of innovation at Butt Grocery.

All three of the Butt brothers–Charles, Eugene, and Howard E.–worked in the family business while they were growing up. However, it was Howard who took an early liking to the business, and was even described in company annals as a ‘grocery man’ from the beginning.

At the age of 22, in 1917, Howard was still working in the grocery store. Shortly after the United States entered World War I, however, Howard joined the Navy. After a two-year tour he returned to Kerrville to take over the store. He had a lot of ideas and was eager to implement them. His first move was to relocate the store to a busier corner in the burgeoning downtown area. In the new location, Butt installed the first in-store meat market and delicatessen. He also began a policy of constantly offering new and different items to patrons.

His decades of innovation helped HEB become the leader it is today. H.E. Butt, Sr., died in 1991. Among his legacies was the successful Howard E. Butt Foundation that he had established in 1934. By the time he died, the foundation had built libraries, swimming pools, charitable food centers, and other amenities in the communities in which Butt stores operated. It had also reached out to the needy in other parts of Texas and even Mexico, among other initiatives.

It all started with Florence, who had so much grit and so much warmth for people who needed help that the community started shopping there and supporting them. That approach will sound familiar to millions of Texans today who have experienced H-E-B’s generosity during and after storms, power blackouts, and other disasters. Howard’s son, Charles C. Butt, the current chairman of H-E-B, has carried on Florence’s giving spirit by making large contributions to hurricane relief and programs supporting public education.

Cindy Glynn
Coldwell Banker American Home