Shell / McDonald's / 15476 Highway 105
This McDonald's/Shell combo opened in 1999. Originally (until the mid-2010s), the canopies that added additional seating along Lake Conroe were painted yellow and red, but now they're tan. Timewise was also adopted as the convenience store name at some point. The McDonald's was "de-mansarded" in the late 2010s.
Wake Church / 3830 West Davis Street
Albertsons (original number unknown but re-numbered as #2734 in the late 1990s) opened here in fall 1996 and was purchased and rebranded as Kroger in spring 2002 when the chain pulled out of the Houston area. The classic Kroger logo disappeared in favor of block lettering a few years later. It closed in 2017 due to a new Kroger Marketplace in Montgomery, probably likely because Kroger already had a Signature store just over a mile away. The space was purchased, renovated, and reopened as Wake Church in 2022. When this space was a supermarket, it also had a gas station in the parking lot that was later demolished.
Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers / 2127 West Davis Street
James Coney Island opened a store here in December 2004 but at some point, probably late 2013 or January 2014 at the very latest, James Coney Island closed.
Unusually for the chain, replacement tenant Raising Cane's renovated it instead of building new, and as a result, when it reopened as Raising Cane's in June 2014, it was the biggest Raising Cane's in the country, though not by much. (Sadly, that link is broken...they changed formats shortly before publication).
1306 West Davis Street
Originally a Randalls supermarket (lasting just three years, roughly from fall 2002 to fall 2005), this later became Hastings, a chain store specializing in music, movies, books, and games. At some point, Gold's Gym moved into the unused space that Hastings didn't use, and after Hastings closed in fall 2016, Gold's Gym continued to stay here. Current tenants include Party City, 2nd & Charles, and Fitness Project.
Fiesta Mart / 210 East Davis Street
This Fiesta Mart (#81) and branded as "Fiesta Fresh Market", this store opened in November 2013 and only at 22k square feet. It still has the deli and bakery and displaced the Smith's Tire Shop, which had been there since 1966. Moore Furniture (on the East Phillips) side was also torn down.
The Home Depot Distribution Center / 400 Porter Road
Formerly Conroe Creosoting Company from 1946 to 1997 (with the address of 1776 Highway 105), I remembered this site because of the unusual setup of a railroad track running through the middle of the intersection. Since around the mid-to-late 2000s it was disconnected from the mainline (but never removed from the roadway).
The new Home Depot DC (FDC/BDC 5859) re-activated the railroad spur in the middle of the intersection (with Porter Road being extended north as well), though the railroad is very different on the other side (the old set-up had the railroad continue at a sharp angle so it would parallel Highway 105). Notice that the link above refers to a "vault" where toxic waste was stored, you can see on aerials, the "vault" is still undeveloped.
Mobil / 3900 East Davis Street
A Chevron was here and demolished in 2017, having been abandoned for over a decade (the classic Chevron dark blue/red/gray). In 2020, a Speedy Stop (Speedy Stop #88)/Mobil was built here. The new Mobil faces 105 instead of facing directly toward the intersection like the old one did.
Incredible Pizza Company / 230 S. Loop 336 W.
Also known as Conroe's Incredible Pizza Company. It's a chain of pizza buffet and entertainment centers, and opened as Kmart (#3648) back in November 1990 and later converted to Big Kmart before closing in early 2003.
IPC opened in August 2005 as one of the first IPC stores in the region. I remember when I was first looking into this years ago, maybe circa 2010-2011, the Incredible Pizza Company website was one of those websites that had audio tracks that loaded automatically, so you'd load up the page and immediately it would start blaring "GO KARTS RUN ON INDOOR TRACKS (INCREDIBLE PIZZA COMPANY), OLD MEMORIES WILL TAKE YOU BACK (INCREDIBLE PIZZA COMPANY)"...thankfully it doesn't do that anymore. IPC doesn't use their entire space; the rest of the former Kmart was used for the Conroe campus of Champion Forest Baptist Church, but now (since 2022) is Pillar Church.
Ni's Chinese Buffet / 226 South Loop 336 West
Shoney's was here from 1994 to around 1999. Porkey's Cafe was here from 2000 to 2001; Ni's opened in December 2003 and has been here since.
220 South Loop 336 West
Part of the same shopping center as the former Kmart above, this was an Albertsons (#2723 post-renumbering) from 1989 to 2002. In early 2002, Albertsons pulled out of the Houston market and sold many of their stores (including this one) to Kroger, which quickly reopened it. Kroger closed this store in 2017 when they built a much larger Kroger Marketplace a quarter mile away.
Pie in the Sky Pie Co. / 3600 N. Loop 336 W.
This pie shop and lunch spot opened in 2005. The location is a little odd being located on what is essentially an access ramp, but it has found success in Conroe--not so much other locations. Attempts to expand the concept to College Station or Houston proper have bombed.
Dunkin' / 800 N. Loop 336 W.
This Dunkin' was built as a combo A&W/Long John Silver's in 2004, built not long after a regular Long John Silver's at the northeast corner of 336 and 75 closed and torn down. It closed in 2013, about two years after Yum! Brands divested the brands to separate owners. Dunkin' (with a co-branded Baskin-Robbins) opened in 2014.
H-E-B / 130 Sawdust Road
Safeway opened here in April 1980 but closed in June 1987 before the division was spun off and renamed as AppleTree. An H-E-B Pantry Foods opened here in 1992. In 2003 the store was replaced with a much larger store that faced east (I-45). Naturally, the larger store required more space. Included in the space that the new H-E-B occupies was 134 Sawdust, built as Eckerd adjacent to Safeway (very common at the time), and later Peter Piper Pizza in the late 1990s. In the parking lot at the northeast corner of Borough Park Drive and Sawdust Road was Grandy's (140 Sawdust Road), built in the 1980s but closed in the late 1990s along with the other Grandy's restaurants in Houston.
Houston Furniture Bank / 295 Sawdust Road
This was a Kroger from 1983 to around 2009, though in its final decade had been rebranded as "Kroger Signature" despite still sporting the Greenhouse facade. Around 2014, the Kroger was reopened as "Church Project", a church group, but in 2020 the church bought another property and moved. Under Church Project, a small bakery called "Jane John Dough" operated within the former Kroger. Later in 2020, the non-profit Houston Furniture Bank opened a store, with "Good City Coffee Co." replacing Jane John Dough.
425 Sawdust Road
This was Wal-Mart #602 in 1984, before it moved to 610 Sawdust Road in 1991. After Wal-Mart moved it was divided between Bud's Discount City, a Wal-Mart division with some basic items and "scratch and dent" returns, and a Crafts Etc. store. In 1995, Crafts Etc. became Ben Franklin Crafts Superstore. By the early 2000s, both were gone (Bud's had departed back in 1994) and the space was now serving as Big Lots and offices for H-E-B's Houston division.
Hobby Lobby / 501 Sawdust Road
Hobby Lobby opened in 1996 and replaced a short-lived Kmart (less than three years, 1992-1995) but also changed its address to something that made more sense (Kmart had a Budde Road address, the side street). Dollar Tree, a subtenant, has been here since 2004, and the garden center is occupied by a Whataburger Training Center (no burgers here). Between that and the Dollar Tree is a Goodwill.
536 Sawdust Road
Today this address is taken by Interfaith Hand Me Up Shop, but the non-profit thrift store only takes 22,000 square feet of this former Randalls supermarket, which operated from 1986 to 2002 (the store was closed when parent company Safeway purchased a nearby Albertsons store when the chain was leaving Houston). It re-divides the building, previously it was largely split in half (as of 2015) with Pump It Up (maintaining the original facade with the store's red brick) and 99 Cents Only Store (which did not, adding additional stucco). The center portion was taken by Fred Astaire Dance Studios, though it was much smaller than 22k square feet.
Hand Me Up had previously been at 25018 Spring Ridge Drive since 1989.
CubeSmart Self Storage / 610 Sawdust Road
This was the second location of Wal-Mart #602, having moved here in 1991 from 425 Sawdust Road. The modern location was not able to be expanded and in 2007 or 2008, the store moved to 1025 Sawdust Road (built as a Supercenter). Afterwards, the building received an inside-and-out renovation into a modern one-story office building, but around 2019-2020, the building was renovated AGAIN into a self-storage facility as the former parking lot was redeveloped into a new apartment building.
KFC / 630 Sawdust Road
This KFC restaurant has been here since the mid-1980s.
The Woodlands Mall / 1201 Lake Woodlands Drive
This mall opened in 1994 as the last Homart-developed mall (Sears sold the Homart division to General Growth Properties in 1995). The mall opened with space for six anchors but only opened with Dillard's, Foley's, Mervyn's, and of course Sears. In 1998 it gained JCPenney (sniping it from Greenspoint Mall, looks like) and while the sixth anchor space was developed as parking lot when the "lifestyle center" addition was installed in the mid-2000s, it became a Dick's Sporting Goods in 2016. By this time, Sears had closed (selling its space back to GGP, which replaced it with a Nordstrom), Foley's had become Macy's, and Mervyn's had become Forever 21, after a brief stint where it became both The Woodlands Children's Museum (upper level) and the Houston Museum of Natural Science Xploration Station (lower level). These were both evicted in fall 2009 for Forever 21.
As part of the developers' vision of The Woodlands, the mall is basically hidden from I-45 (and it does not have an Interstate 45 address). More information on TWM will hopefully be coming in a future edition of this site.
Cigars International Superstore / 16580 Interstate 45
Opened in January 2023 (it's supposed to, anyway), this was formerly the home to the last Wings 'N More restaurant to operate in the Greater Houston area (2005-2020). It used to be known as "Mark Dennard's Original Wings 'N More" to distinguish themselves from the franchised locations (now known as BreWingz).
Lupe Tortilla / 19437 I-45
This Houston-based Tex-Mex chain built this location in 2006. Not much can be said about it.
IHOP / 25619 I-45
The IHOP here was built in 1996, and while that's not too unusual, fairly stable, fairly popular, the nearby demolished restaurant (25657 I-45) is a tad more interesting. This opened as a location of El Chico and lasted from 1994 to 1998 (El Chico had built a number of restaurants in the 1990s which all somehow looked like they already 30 years old, but El Chico never had many Houston restaurants to begin with). In 1999 it became Tortuga's Coastal Cantina in 1999 and became eventually became Bikini's Sports Bar & Grill in 2012. In 2015, the parent company of Bikini's converted it to Gino's East (see the Bikini's Wikipedia article) but it closed in 2017. In 2019 the vacant restaurant was demolished.
Costco Wholesale / 8185 State Highway 242
While it has a State Highway 242 address, this Costco faces and is accessible off of Interstate 45 (the gas station is on the I-45 side as well). It opened November 21, 2014.
At Home / 16778 Interstate 45
Garden Ridge opened here in March 2001 but the original building was heavily damaged in an October 2011 arson. As a result, the store was demolished and rebuilt, with the new reopened store (slightly larger than the old one) opening in September 2012. It was rebranded as At Home in late 2014.
16590 Interstate 45
Burlington (the first store to open in Houston as such, rather than "Burlington Coat Factory" opened here in late 2012 in an empty building that was designed as a Finger Furniture store. In 2013, a part of the building that Burlington did not occupy was taken up by Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery.
Still, the space was too big for Burlington as the company continued to change, and in 2022, they moved out to a smaller location.
Target / 503 Interstate 45 North
Target-1115 opened in March 1998 in a shopping center at the southwest corner of Highway 105 and Interstate 45. Like other Target stores from that time frame, it had red, blue, and green striping on the outside, though it was eventually removed as the store renovated.