History of Leonard’s

In 1918, Marvin Leonard opened a small store that sold groceries and salvaged merchandise. He was soon joined by his brother Obie and the store eventually grew to occupy over (6?) blocks in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. Leonard Brothers became a store so large that even to this day it dwarfs anything that any single retail user has ever tried to accomplish.

The Leonard brothers invented the superstore. They had Wal-Mart before there was a Wal-Mart. By 1929 they were the largest single-site purveyor of meat, groceries, baked goods and produce in Texas. In 1935 a state-of-the-art creamery was added and the Leonards purchased raw milk and cream from area dairymen then produced their own pasteurized milk, butter, cream and ice cream. The store made its own frozen fudgesicles and even operated a laundry.

Leonards made its own candy and pasta. It roasted coffee on the premises. One Saturday in 1937 the store’s bakery sold 30,000 one-pound loafs of bread at three loafs for a nickel. Leonard’s advertising slogan was, “More merchandise for less money,” and the store delivered on that promise.

In 1933, during the great depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a “Banking Holiday” and closed all of the nation’s banks to prevent the American banking system from total collapse. People had no place to cash their paychecks and no money to live on. Leonards responded by printing their own currency, a store “brand” script, and minting their own coins. They cashed people’s paychecks with a combination of store script and cash and soon other businesses in Fort Worth began accepting Leonard’s script as payment for goods and services. Leonard’s customers could purchase those things that they needed and, for a very long time, they remember that Leonards had made it possible.

At Leonards you could buy vegetable seeds to plant in your garden or purchase a copy of Emily Post’s Etiquette. Leonards was a department store with the latest in affordable fashions and a complete farm store, a grocery store, a hardware store, a beauty saloon and an automotive supply. It was a furniture store and a sporting goods store and at Christmas there was Toyland, the most spectacular toy store in town. Marvin and Obie called Leonards, “A one-stop shopping center,” years before there were shopping centers.

When the crowds at Leonards became so large that it created a parking problem in downtown Fort Worth, Leonards built the world’s only privately owned subway to shuttle customers from a remote parking area to the store in complete comfort. 

When prices for nationally known name brand merchandise went up, Leonards created their own store brands to save customers money. The store offered items such as Leonard’s brand lawn mowers and laundry detergent, Leonard’s brand cigars and bicycles, Leonard’s brand motor oil and a Leonard’s brand freezer to store the wonderful grocery bargains that were available every day at Leonards.

Leonards was a cross between a modern day super store and a shopping mall. It was a place to purchase merchandise and a place to meet up with friends. Going to Leonards on a Saturday was an event that the whole family looked forward to doing together whether they traveled to the store from across town or across the state.

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Leonard Family



Leonard Commercials



Favorite Leonard Links