Which Of These Convenience Stores Was Originally Called “Tote’m Stores”?
In the 1920s, the Southland Ice Company operated a chain of ice houses around the Dallas, TX area where customers could stock up on ice for their ice boxes. An employee, John Jefferson Green, got permission from one of the company’s founding directors to start selling basic goods like eggs, milk, and bread at one of the sixteen ice house store fronts based on the idea that people would love the convenience of grabbing some basic kitchen staples while stocking up on ice.
The model proved to be very successful, and eventually the stores were renamed “Tote’m Stores”—a nod to both the fact that the customers “toted” away their purchases and a tongue-in-cheek pun on the presence of the large Inuit totem pole one of the employees had brought back from Alaska and erected outside the first store. The totem pole became such an eye catching marketing tool, that they soon placed them in front of every store.
The company retained the “Tote’m Stores” branding until 1946, at which point they rebranded to “7-Eleven” to reflect the new (and greatly expanded) hours of operation that saw them open sooner, and stay open later, than their competitors.