TG&Y remains the great “Five and Ten Cent Store” of Oklahoma history. Generations of Sooners visited their neighborhood TG&Y customer-friendly department stores for discount rates on everything from toys to hardware, before anyone ever heard of another department store giant founded by an Oklahoman, Wal-mart. Almost as famous as the TG&Y name itself were such monikers as “Toys, Guns, and Yo yos” and “Turtles, Girdles, and Yo yos.”
Three small-town young men from the Southern Plains of western Oklahoma—Rawdon E. Tomlinson of Frederick, Enoch L. “Les” Gosselin of Cordell, and Raymond A. Young of Kingfisher—founded the legendary chain in 1935. They merged stores they already owned. They picked the first letters of their own three last names to name the company, and in order of their ages.
The youngest of the three, Oklahoma State University graduate Young, was what business historian Steve Lackmeyer called the “heart and soul” of TG&Y throughout its many decades of operation. He led the company and provided its vision.
The first original TG&Y variety store opened the next year in Norman, backed by the philosophy, “have what people want at a price they can afford to pay.” Boldness and innovation became hallmarks of the company. Its leaders built a giant warehouse so they could purchase goods directly from manufacturers rather than wholesalers. This cut the cost of merchandise to customers.
Far from restoring prosperity to America, other than in select industries, World War II rendered countless products even scarcer for the public. These included store fixtures. So Young and his confederates built a plant and manufactured their own!
Their audacious and ingenious spirit fueled the history and success of this Oklahoma legend until its final stores closed early in the 21st century. Young died the same year.
The above article is a bonus to the fascinating historical content found within our book
Oklahomans Vol 2 :
Statehood - 2020s
which can be purchased HERE.
View the inspiring 2-minute preview video HERE.