Oldest US Retailing Companies In Business

Years and Dates When Largest US Retailing and Restaurant Chains Were Founded

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.

19th Century U.S. Retail Companies

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1810’s

1818 - Brooks Brothers

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1820’s

1826 - Lord & Taylor

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1850’s

1858 - Macy’s
1859 - The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1860’s

1861 - Bloomingdales
1867 - Saks Fifth Avenue
1865 - Carters
1866 - Mobil
1866 - Sherwin-Williams
1867 - Stage Stores (Uhlman’s)

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1870’s

1870 - Exxon (Standard Oil)
1872 - Montgomery Ward
1872 - Roundy's Supermarkets
1873 - Barnes & Noble
1876 - AT&T
1876 - Chevron
1878 - Foot Locker

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1880’s

1881 - Target
1883 - The Kroger Company
1888 - Belk
1888 - Sears, Roebuck & Co.



U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1890’s

1892 - Abercrombie & Fitch
1892 - Shell
1898 - Bon-Ton Stores
1899 - Kmart

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 1900’s

1901 - Duckwall-ALCO (Filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2014 - final store closing in 2015)
1901 - Nordstrom
1901 - Walgreens
1902 - JC Penney
1903 - Ford Motor Company
1905 - H.E. Butt Grocery Company (H-E-B)
1907 - Neiman Marcus

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1910’s

1915 - Safeway
1916 - Wegmans Food Markets

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1920’s

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 1930’s

1930 - Hy-Vee
1930 - Publix
1931 - Giant Eagle
1932 - Advance Auto Parts
1933 - The Golub Corp. Price Chopper Supermarkets
1934 - Meijer
1934 - Race Trac Petroleum
1935 - Raley's
1936 - Ruddick Corp. / Harris Teeter
1936 - Stater Brothers Holdings
1938 - Dillard's
1939 - Albertson's
1939 - Dollar General

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1940’s

1941 - Carl’s Jr.
1947 - Fred’s
1947 - Shoney's
1948 - Buckle Clothing Stores
1948 - Dick's Sporting Goods
1949 - Circuit City
1949 - Signet Jewelers

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1950’s

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 1960’s

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 1970’s

1971 - Bed Bath and Beyond
1971 - Borders
1971 - Starbucks Coffee
1973 - Golden Corral
1973 - Hungry Howie’s Pizza
1975 - El Pollo Loco
1975 - The Pantry
1976 - Apple
1976 - Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop
1976 - The Coffee Beanery
1976 - Gymboree
1977 - American Eagle Outfitters
1978 - Marco’s Pizza
1978 - Zumiez
1979 - AutoZone
1979 - Home Depot
1979 - Planet Sub

U.S. Retail Companies Founded in the 1980’s

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 1990’s

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 2000’s

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 2010’s

2010 - Forever Yogurt