W.T.Grant
  • Headquarters: Lynn, MA
  • Founder: William Thomas Grant
  • Employees: n/a
  • Stores: 1,200
  • Slogan: Known for values!
  • Founded: 1906
  • Closed: 1976

Unfortunately, this chain closed before I was born so I never visited one of their stores. However, I've been to some of their former stores that are stil standing today but filled with by new retailer.

OVERVIEW

W. T. Grant (Grants) was a chain founded by William Thomas Grant. Stores were generally of the dime store format and located in downtowns but some were located in new shopping centers built in the 70’s.

In 1906 the first "W. T. Grant Co. 25 Cent Store" opened in Lynn, Massachusetts. Modest profit, coupled with a fast turnover of inventory, caused the stores to grow to almost $100 million a year in sales by 1936, the same year that William Thomas Grant started the W. T. Grant Foundation. By the time Mr. Grant died in 1972, at age 96, his nationwide empire of W. T. Grant Stores had grown to almost 1,200 stores in 40 states ans sales nears 1 billion.

Grant's stores were slower than the Kresge stores to adapt to the growth of suburbs and the change in shopping habits that this entailed. The attempt to correct this was belated; by the late 1960s there were some "Grant City" stores, but unlike Kresge's K-mart they were not of uniform sizes or layouts. The chain's demise in 1975 was in part due to a failure to adapt to changing times.

Canadian retail chain Zellers once concluded a deal with the W.T. Grant Company. The Grant Company was allowed to purchase 10% of Zellers common shares, and was given options that eventually translated into a 51% effective ownership of Zellers in 1959. In return for this, the "Grant Company was making available to Zellers its experience on merchandise, real estate, store development, and administration". Zellers employees were sent to Grant stores and head office for training and together they made common buying trips to the Orient, a practice that benefited both companies. By 1976, the Grant Company withdrew from Zellers.

In January 1975, W.T. Grant announced it planned to close 66 unprofitable stores by summer with two-third of the stores being the newer Grant City stores. These 66 closings were added to the 26 shutdowns already scheduled for January 1975.

In October 1975, Grants filed a petition in voluntary bankruptcy, listing debts of more than $1 billion. Grant's bankruptcy was the largest retail store bankruptcy until the bankruptcy filing by K-mart in 2002. The company withdrew from several states west of the Mississippi River with the closure of 201 of its 1,074 stores. 16 of these store closings were in New England. At that time, the company had 62,000 employees and was operating in 42 states.

The remaining 359 Stores were liquidated and closed by March 1976.

Link to a story about Grants stores in Portland Maine.

NEW ENGLAND LOCATIONS:

This website is not affiliated with the former W.T.Grant, Grant City or Grants chains.