The Original Locations of 15 Famous Chain Stores
By Alex Watt
1. Gap // Ocean Ave., San Francisco, California
The first Gap opened in 1969 after Donald and Doris Fisher were so fed up with their previous jeans-buying experiences, they decided to get in the game themselves. The merchandise of the original Gap store was comprised of Levi’s and records. While the original is no longer an active clothing store, there are currently 3727 Gap locations worldwide. Not bad for a couple of people who couldn’t find dungarees that fit.
2. Barnes & Noble // 3 West 3rd St., New York, New York
What is now Barnes & Noble was opened 130 years ago on West Third Street by Arthur Hinds, but just one year later it moved to the Cooper Union Building, now a New York City landmark, and established itself as Arthur Hinds & Company, becoming a well-respected textbook seller. Shortly thereafter, Hinds hired a Harvard grad by the name of Gilbert Clifford-Noble to be a clerk. Eight years later, Noble was made partner and the store was renamed Hinds & Noble. Twenty-three years after that, Noble and William Barnes bought out ol’ Hindsy and ordered themselves some new business cards with "Barnes & Noble" on them.
3. Supercuts // 1475 Solano Ave., Albany, California
jaycross, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Supercuts was founded in 1975 by Geoffrey M. Rappaport and Frank E. Emmett in Albany, California, where the original location remains in operation. With affordable prices and a “no appointment required” policy, buzz quickly started to grow, and today there are over 2400 Supercuts salons across the United States.
4. GNC // 418 Wood St., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The largest health and nutrition chain in the world began with one store in downtown Pittsburgh in 1935 named Lackzoom (after the founder’s parents' defunct yogurt business). In its early days, founder David Shakarian provided health-conscious consumers with such fitness-friendly foods as honey, whole grains, and yogurt. Shakarian’s first and second Lackzoom locations were destroyed by a flood just a year after he opened them, but he was able to quickly rebuild both—presumably thanks to the strength and stamina of his honey-sculpted bod. Fueled by the health craze that swept the 1960s, they changed their name to General Nutrition Centers, expanded outside of Pittsburgh, and were well on their way to becoming an industry leader.
5. Foot Locker // 1600 S Azusa Ave., City of Industry, California
The first Foot Locker is located in the Puente Hills Mall of City of Industry, California. When it opened in 1974, the store specialized in performance sneakers but today they carry a variety of styles and boast over 3450 locations worldwide.
6. 7-Eleven // Edgefield and 12th St., Dallas, Texas
In 1927, “Uncle” Johnny Green began selling milk, bread, and eggs out of an ice house, and the world’s first convenience store was born. Now, with 56,600 locations across the globe, the chain is the world’s largest. There’s no way Uncle Johnny could have even dreamed of providing this planet of ours with so many Slurpees back when he was slinging blocks of ice. In 1998, the original 7-Eleven location was donated by the Southland Corporation to the League of United Latin American Citizens.
7. Guitar Center // 7425 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, California
Bright Vibes, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The original Guitar Center opened in 1971 on Sunset Boulevard after founder Wayne Mitchell began making so much money selling guitars and amplifiers that he had no choice but to leave behind The Organ Center (an appliance and home organ shop), which he had purchased in 1959. With 269 locations, Guitar Center is now the largest musical instrument retailer in the world. In 1985, a “RockWalk” that honors music legends like James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and Toto was added to the chain’s first location.
8. CVS // 18 Merrimack St., Lowell, Massachusetts
Brothers Stanley and Sidney Goldstein and their partner Ralph Hoagland founded CVS (Consumer Value Stores) in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1963. The store initially sold just health and beauty products, but in 1967 the first CVSs with pharmacy departments opened in Warwick and Cumberland, Rhode Island. There are currently over 9600 locations throughout the United States, all providing customers with really, really long receipts.
9. Party City // 346 NJ-10, East Hanover, New Jersey
In 1986, Steven Mandell founded Party City when he opened his first party goods store in East Hanover, New Jersey. The store was a hit and the brand grew like a “Congrats Grad” balloon on the nozzle of a helium tank. By 1993, there were 58 locations. Today, there are over 900 Party City stores providing people with anything they’d ever need for their festivities (besides, of course, alcohol).
10. Pep Boys // N. 63rd St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Manny, Moe, and Jack aren’t just the big, creepy heads that watch over your every move in the Pep Boys parking lot; they’re the chain's founders, too: Emanuel “Manny” Rosenfeld, Maurice “Moe” Strauss, Moe Radavitz, and W. Graham “Jack” Jackson. (Yes, there were two Moes.) The foursome who met while serving in the United States Navy each put up $200 and opened their first automotive shop in 1921. The Pep Boys name was born when Strauss liked what he saw on a can of Pep Valve Grinding compound, and it lives on today in over 800 stores and approximately 7500 service bays in 35 states and Puerto Rico.
11. Office Depot // 3245 N. State Road 7, State Road 441 & W. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The first Office Depot opened in the Lauderdale Lakes Mall of Fort Lauderdale (just a 20-minute drive from the beach) in 1986 and it’s still slinging office supplies to this day. Including OfficeMax, which it merged with in 2013, and a few other subsidiaries, Office Depot can be found in 57 countries around the world.
12. Spencer's Gifts // 2000 New Jersey 38, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
After 16 years of existing solely as a mail-order catalog, Spencer’s Gifts opened its first novelty merchandise shop in 1963 at the Cherry Hill Mall in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Today, there are over 650 Spencer’s Gifts locations throughout the United States and Canada, but you can still purchase a naughty shot glass or fart machine at the original location if you’re looking to make some sort of gag-gift pilgrimage.
13. Bed Bath and Beyond // 715 Morris Turnpike, Springfield, New Jersey
Before Bed Bath and Beyond was the massive domestic merchandise retail chain it is today with over 1000 locations in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Puerto Rico, it was a store in Springfield, New Jersey with a significantly less expansive moniker: "Bed ‘n Bath." The original location opened in 1971 and is still accepting your expired coupons today.
14. IKEA // Bäckgatan 4, Älmhult, Sweden
The first IKEA location opened in 1958 in Älmhult, Sweden, 15 years after founder Ingvar Kamprad began a mail-order sales business under the same name. Today, there are 384 IKEA locations in 48 countries. The first location in the United States came in 1985 when Philadelphia got a taste of food-court meatballs and fighting with their significant other about shelves. An IKEA museum is set to open in June of 2016 at the chain’s original location, so check that out if you’re in Sweden and looking to take a stroll down MALM-ory lane.
15. Duane Reade // Broadway between Duane St. and Reade St., New York, New York
The original Duane Reade drugstore was opened by Abraham, Eli, and Jack Cohen on Broadway between Duane Street and Reade Street in 1960, the former thoroughfares being named after two important 18th century New Yorkers—the 44th Mayor of New York City, James Duane, and Joseph Reade, a former warden of Trinity Church. Neither would live to pick up a prescription and/or gummy vitamins at the store that bears their names. Today, there are 250 Duane Reade locations—all in the New York metropolitan area.