Learn About the Oldest US Retailers Still In Business

Oldest US Retailing Companies In Business: 19th, 20th and 21st Century
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When asked "What is the oldest U.S. retail chain that is still doing business today?" not only would most consumers not be able to name the oldest U.S. retailing or restaurant company, but they would also be hard pressed to guess the year that retailing company was founded or even which century. So, what is the answer to the frequently asked question about the oldest retailer still in business in the U.S.?

(HINT: The oldest company in the U.S. retail industry is NOT Walmart!)

The answer is...

Brooks Brothers is the oldest U.S. retail industry company that is still in business today.  It was founded just 42 years after the United States itself was born. Their first Brooks Brothers store opened April 7, 1818, on Cherry Street in New York City. At the time, the name of the retail clothier was H. and D.H. Brooks and Company.  

It might be assumed that the oldest retail chains that have been doing business in the U.S. for the longest period of time are also the best retailers just because they have been able to stand the test of time. That is true to a certain degree. However, in the 21st century, some of the oldest legacy retail giants that were originally founded in the 19th century like Sears, JCPenney, and Abercrombie and Fitch are struggling to remain relevant in a fast-moving global retailing environment that is constantly redefining itself.

 

RELATED:  Sears Tries to Change Its Big and Old Brand Image >>

A look at a complete timeline for the founding dates of the largest companies in the U.S. retail industry reveals that many legacy retail giants are struggling today, which indicates they are probably weighted down by their own history.

 The chronological index of the 19th, 20th, and 21st-century retail founding dates also has value because you never know when you might need some filler conversation at a cocktail party or a mall outing.  

What follows is a complete list of the largest U.S. retail chains and the dates they were founded. Retail and restaurant companies founded in the 19th century are listed below. Click here for the retail industry companies founded in the 20th and 21st century.  

The list is arranged chronologically according to the dates when the retail companies were founded.

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1810s

  • 1818 - Brooks Brothers


U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1820s

  • 1826 - Lord & Taylor


U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1850s


U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1860s


U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1870s


U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1880s


U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1890s

Much of U.S. retail industry is fairly recent compared to the rest of the world.  Of all the U.S. retailing and restaurant companies that are still doing business today, a vast majority of them weren't founded until the 20th and 21st century.  Compared to global retailing legends like Sotheby's in London, which is creeping up on its 300th birthday, even the oldest U.S. retail chains are in their infancy.  Or at least their toddlerhood.

Still, six of the largest retailing companies in the world were founded in the U.S. more than 100 years ago and are still doing business both inside and outside of American borders.  (And no, none of them are Walmart!)

Nordstrom, Walgreens, JCPenney, the Ford Motor Company, H.E. Butt Grocery Company and Neiman Marcus were all founded in the early 20th century and are still alive and retailing today.  Many people wrongly believe that since Walmart is the largest U.S. retail chain it must also be the oldest U.S. retailing company.  In fact, Walmart is a relatively young company, which wasn't founded by Sam Walton until 1950.  

Walmart's youth is nothing compared to two retailing companies that have disrupted and transformed traditional retailing on a global level in the past decade. Amazon only sold its first product from its online store in July 1995 and Apple only opened its first Apple retail store in May 2001.  

RELATED:  All 2016 U.S. Retail Chain Store Openings and Expansions >>

Viewing a timeline of retail and restaurant companies founded in the 1900's and 2000's reveals how much can be accomplished by a retailing company on a mission in a very short period of time.  Some of the today's most valuable retail brands weren't even founded in the U.S. 50 years ago.

What follows is a 20th and 21st-century retail history timeline of retail and restaurant companies founded in the 1900's and 2000's.  This list is arranged chronologically by founding dates and years of each individual retailing company.

SEE ALSO: All Retailing Companies Found in the 1800's Still In Business Today >>

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1900s


U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1910s


U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1920s

1921 - Lowe's
1921 - RadioShack (click here for 2015 Radio Shack Store Closing locations)
1922 - CVS
1923 - Walt Disney Corporation
1924 - Burlington Coat Factory
1925 - NAPA Auto Parts
1925 - Winn-Dixie Stores
1926 - SuperValu

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1930s


U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1940s


U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1950s

  • 1950 - Dunkin’ Donuts
  • 1950 - Walmart
  • 1952 - Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)
  • 1952 - Save Mart Supermarkets
  • 1952 - Sheetz
  • 1953 - Denny's
  • 1954 - Jerry’s Subs & Pizza
  • 1956 - Sbarro
  • 1956 - TJX
  • 1956 - Williams-Sonoma
  • 1957 - O'Reilly Automotive
  • 1957 - Ross Stores
  • 1957 - Toys 'R Us
  • 1958 - Perkins Restaurant & Bakery
  • 1958 - Pizza Hut
  • 1958 - QuikTrip
  • 1959 - Family Dollar
  • 1959 - Little Caesar’s Pizza

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1960s

  • 1961 - Hardee's
  • 1962 - Kohl's
  • 1962 - Menard
  • 1962 - Taco Bell
  • 1962 - Western Sizzlin
  • 1963 - CVS Caremark
  • 1963 - Limited Brands
  • 1964 - Del Taco
  • 1964 - Hudle House
  • 1964 - WaWA
  • 1965 - Kwik Trip
  • 1966 - Best Buy
  • 1967 - Big Lots
  • 1967 - WinCo Foods
  • 1968 - Casey's General Stores
  • 1968 - Rite Aid
  • 1969 - The Gap
  • 1969 - Wendy’s


U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1970s


U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1980s

  • 1980 - Fuddruckers
  • 1980 - Whole Foods
  • 1981 - Papa Murphy's
  • 1982 - Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffees & Smoothies
  • 1982 - Ruby’s Diner
  • 1983 - Costco
  • 1983 - Jimmy John’s Sandwich Shops
  • 1984 - BJ's Wholesale Club
  • 1984 - Dell
  • 1984 - GameStop
  • 1984 - Michaels Stores
  • 1985 - Blockbuster
  • 1986 - Buffalo Wings & Rings
  • 1986 - Dollar Tree
  • 1986 - Five Guys
  • 1986 - Johnny Rockets
  • 1986 - Office Depot
  • 1986 - PetSmart
  • 1986 - Staples
  • 1988 - Batteries Plus
  • 1988 - OfficeMax
  • 1988 - Street Corner
  • 1989 - McAlister’s Deli
  • 1988 - Stage Stores

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1990s

  • 1991 - Liberty Media (QVC)
  • 1991 - Wayback Burgers
  • 1992 - Pancheros Mexican Grill
  • 1994 - Amazon.com
  • 1994 - Firehouse Subs
  • 1994 - Wings Etc.
  • 1994 - Wingstop Restaurants
  • 1995 - Hurricane Grill & Wings
  • 1999 - Edible Arrangements
  • 1999 - Panera Bread
  • 1999 - ShakeAway

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 2000s

  • 2002 - Chronic Tacos
  • 2002 - WineStyles Tasting Station
  • 2005 - Jersey Boardwalk Pizza
  • 2008 - Kona Ice
  • 2008 - America’s Taco Shop

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 2010s

  • 2010 - Forever Yogurt