Learn About the Oldest Us Retailers Still in Business

Oldest US Retailing Companies In Business
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Some people may measure being a success in business by the length of time a company has been in operation. You might find it difficult to name the oldest U.S. retailing or restaurant company off the top of your head, or guess the year that retailing company was founded, or even which century.

Brooks Brothers Oldest U.S. Men's Clothing Retailer

Brooks Brothers is the oldest U.S. retail industry company that is still doing business today. The company was founded only 42 years after the United States itself was born. The 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. 

Struggling Survivors

One might assume that the oldest retail chains still in business in the U.S. are also the best retailers 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 founded in the 19th century like Sears, J.C. Penney, and Abercrombie and Fitch are today struggling to remain relevant in a fast-moving global retailing environment that continues to constantly redefine itself. 

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 could be weighted down by their own history. 

A Chronological Listing

The chronological index of the 19th, 20th, and 21st-century retail founding dates offer some interesting insights, and you never know when you might need some filler conversation at a cocktail party or a mall outing. The following is a list of the largest U.S. retail chains and the dates they were founded. Afterward, you'll find the retail industry companies founded in the 20th and 21st century. The list is arranged chronologically according to the founding dates for each retail company.

U.S. Retail and Restaurants Companies Founded in the 1800s

    The Age of Global Retail

    Much of the U.S. retail industry is still fairly recent compared to the rest of the world. Of all the U.S. retailing 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. 

    When Size Does Not Equal Age

    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 and 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 sold its first product from its online store in July 1995 and Apple opened its first Apple retail store in May 2001. 

    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 didn't even exist in the U.S. 50 years ago.

    U.S. Company Foundings in the 1900s and 2000s

    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. 

    This list is arranged chronologically by founding dates and years of each individual company.

    U.S. Retail and Restaurant Companies Founded in the 1900s

    U.S. Retail and Restaurant Companies Founded in the 1910s

    • 1915 - Safeway
    • 1916 - Wegmans Food Markets

    U.S. Retail and Restaurant Companies Founded in the 1920s

    U.S. Retail and Restaurant Companies Founded in the 1930s

    • 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 and Restaurant Companies Founded in the 1940s

    • 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 and Restaurant 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 and Restaurant 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 and Restaurant Companies Founded in the 1970s

    • 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 and Restaurant 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 and Restaurant 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 and Restaurant 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 and Restaurant Companies Founded in the 2010s

    • 2010 - Forever Yogurt