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H-E-B playlist makes customer's ears shop the memory of music

The Olmos Park H-E-B is claiming all bragging rights to being the MOST jamming H-E-B in the grocery store's arsenal. Customers say you're 'jam right it is!'

OLMOS PARK, Texas — Customers have come to know H-E-B for all things grocery and depending on where you all things home. The Olmos Park location for the grocery giant is earning a reputation on the party aisle.

"Our music here is what's called the seventies hits," Thomas Dunnam said.

Dunnam is the store's leader. He said the music gets corporately chosen to enhance the customer experience.

"It includes a lot of your classic hits, you know, that many of our customers grew up jamming to," Dunnam said.

The tunes caught the ear of San Antonio Express-News columnist Cary Clack. He is a veteran writer who loves his music as he does words.

"You just don't go into any establishment to hear Teddy Pendergrass singing," Clack said. "Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes."

The Olmos Park store is not what he would call his H-E-B. But health items and a copy of the New York Times brought him into the business. Now, music makes shopping more pleasurable. 

"I see some of the H-E-B employees dancing or singing along with it," he said. "Obviously, it's not just me."  

Clack started recording the songs on social media. Soon others started chiming in on their H-E-B music and what he heard.

"I didn't intend for it become a thing," he said.

Even a few characters from his platform of persuasion can be attention-getting. But the H-E-B has a built-in audience already.

Dunnam said the store's demo eats the music up young and old.

"The Trinity folks and the UIW folks also enjoy that type of music. It's kind of coming back," Dunnam said. "It's like the seventies are now the 2020s."

Clack said he'd heard 1975's 'Sara Smile' by Hall & Oates. Then, 1971's ' Rock Steady' by the late Aretha Franklin, 1972's 'Let's Stay Together by Al Green, and even Sam Cooke to name a few.

The Chi-Lites, Elton John, Michael Jackson, and even the late Rick James are on the playlist too. Clack said that the day he hears 'Fire & Desire' by James and the late Teena Marie will be the ultimate.

"It's clean, very bright, and the music's awesome," James Valdez said.

He comes to the store with his wife. Play the right music, he said, and the fire may begin for the desire.

"I'll go get some chocolate. And it's good. It's all good," Valdez said.

When Vanessa Sanchez shops with her family, the music becomes the soundtrack of a good store experience.

"I have an 11-year-old, a six-year-old, 21-year-old--and all of us know the music," she said.

The wife and mother said you might even see her dance and sing in the aisles.

"One of the main reasons I come here is because of the music, and it just makes you feel really good," Sanchez said. "Like we're always singing along to it, and they're always playing something we know."  

For Clack, the music came when San Antonio was wrestling the clutches of the pandemic.

"When we were going into lockdown," he said. "When we were alone a lot. And so we were alone a lot in our minds, even when we're out in public." 

The universal touch of music has a reach and a touch---even carrying out routine or rushed trips to the grocery store.

Dunnam sees it from check-in to check out in his store.

"They're just having a great time while shopping. And I think that's pretty powerful," he said.

But don't tinker with the tunes. H-E-B tried alternating a change in the playlist, and Dunnam said his customers came with feedback. So the dial is set on the 70s in Olmos Park.  

From K.C. and the Sunshine Band to Marvin Gaye, the customers can't wait to 'get it on.'

"This is what they call the jamming H-E-B Olmos Park-- the great number eight," Dunnam said.  

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