Wood T. Brookshire opened the first Brookshire Grocery Co. on the courthouse square in downtown Tyler on Sept. 1, 1928.

Here we are, more than 77 years later, and the news broke on Wednesday that the iconic Tyler-based grocery store chain is exploring a sale potentially worth $1 billion.

The company owns more than 150 Brookshire's and Super 1 stores, plus the Tyler-based Fresh By Brookshire's, in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Brookshire's employs more than 13,000 people.

But now we have the question: If Brookshire's does indeed get sold, who will buy it?

Here are three possibilities:

  • 1

    Albertsons

    Albertsons looks to be the most likely buyer of Brookshire's. It was the only company mentioned in Reuters' breaking report about Brookshire's exploring a sale, and the chain has been making plenty of acquisitions lately as it moves to go public. The company spent $9.2 billion earlier this year to acquire Safeway grocery stores, and is looking to increase its presence in Texas, where it already owns 54 stores. A downside, however, was that Albertsons was supposed to go public on Wednesday (Oct. 14), but delayed its initial public offering because it would not be reaching near the stock price it anticipated.

    Matthew Staver, Getty Images
  • 2

    H-E-B

    H-E-B would probably be the most popular choice among customers, since it is a direct competitor to Brookshire's and is also Texas-based. H-E-B has more than 350 stores throughout Texas and northern Mexico, and also operates Central Market -- a great alternative to Fresh By Brookshire's in Tyler. As far as East Texas is concerned, the only H-E-B stores in the area are in Corsicana and Carthage, so an acquisition of Brookshire's would H-E-B the foothold in Texas it needs.

    H-E-B
  • 3

    Kroger

    You can't leave out the big players in situations such as these. Kroger is the second-largest general retailer in America behind Walmart, and the fifth-largest in the world. The multi-billion-dollar company has already acquired grocery stores in North Carolina this year, and taking over Brookshire's 150-plus stores would be a major power play. One attractive component about Brookshire's is that its employees are not unionized, although most of Kroger's employees are part of a national labor union.

    Daniel Acker, Getty Images