National Tea and Related Chains


Based in Chicago, the first National Tea store opened in 1899. Number of locations peaked in 1929 at 1627. Consolidation had reduced this number to 883 by 1957. During the 1950s, National acquired numerous chains including:

  • C.F. Smith Stores (Michigan)
  • Northwest Piggly Wiggly
  • G.T. Smith’s Market Basket
  • Dale Supermarkets
  • Food Center stores (St Louis)
  • Capital Stores (Baton Rouge)
  • Canal Villere (New Orleans)
  • Ashton’s (Gulfport)
  • H.A. Smith (Memphis)
  • Montag’s (Memphis)
  • Maker’s (Michigan)
  • Illinois Valley Stores (selected locations)
  • Devan’s (Mobile AL)
  • Logan’s (Nashville TN)
  • Council Oak Stores (Minnesota)
  • Miller’s Supermarkets (Colorado)
  • Standard Supermarkets (Indiana)

National itself was acquired by Loblaw Companies of Canada in 1955, and stores continued to operate under the National and Loblaw names. Stores also operated under the “Big D” and “Del Farm” banners. in 1964, the chain was operating all over the Midwest, the South, and the Great Plains.

In the 1970s, Loblaw started divesting unprofitable stores, starting with 250 Chicago, Syracuse, and California stores in 1976. Indianapolis was sold in 1982, Minneapolis in 1983, and all remaining U.S. assets by 1995. St. Louis and New Orleans were the last regions to be sold.

Loblaw’s is still the largest food and drug retailer in Canada, operating stores under its own names as well as under the Zehr’s, Fortino’s, Your Independent, Provigo, No Frills, Shoppers Drug Mart and Superstore banners.

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Updated on 26 November 2022

One thought on “National Tea and Related Chains

  1. Robert Heaslip

    February 17, 2021 at 10:02am

    Hello. I see that the stores in Minneapolis were sold in 1983. When were they acquired? Were they operated under the NFI banner?
    Thank you for your time. Bob.

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  2. Deborah Boudreaux

    February 24, 2022 at 8:55am

    I worked for the National Tea Company’s “Super Stores” in the early 1990’s. At that time, it was the best job that I had ever had. Myself, as well as others were truly saddened by the company’s decision to leave the USA. But I can say that it was by the company’s generosity, that I was able to get further education and a super career. I will always be grateful to this company.

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  3. Chuck Dirks

    April 9, 2022 at 5:20pm

    My grandfather, Leonard C. LeBlanc, Sr was the 1st regional branch manager for National Stores after their parent purchased Capitol Stores of BR. My father, Charles L. Dirks, Sr became the 1st district manager for National Stores after they purchased DeVans supermarkets in Mobile, AL. I fell in love with Jeanette Argiro in Mobile, AL. She was the most beautiful girl walking. The years my grandparents and parents spent under the National Tea Umbrella were good years. We left that environ to start our own family chain of grocers. I would not enjoy being impaled to compare the pluses and minuses of each period. I fear my memories of Jeanette and subsequently Linda G would weigh against each other making an impartial comparative useless from me.

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