Cowtown Yoostabes, Self-Serve Edition: Jack Long Helped Those Who Helped Themselves

Do you know what these nine commercial buildings yoostabe?

2411 North Main Street (circa 1920).

2970 Park Hill Drive (1927).

3245 South Adams Street (1928).

4624 Camp Bowie Boulevard (1927).

1513 Northwest 25th Street (1928).

4081 East Lancaster Avenue (1930).

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue/526 South Henderson Street (1929).

3120 East Rosedale Avenue (circa 1925).

2701 East Lancaster Avenue (1945) (later housed the 312 Club).

2673 East Vickery Boulevard (1927). (Update: This building has been demolished.)

Answer: These nine buildings yoostabe Helpy-Selfy grocery stores.

Back in the 1920s shoppers were still becoming accustomed to being able to serve themselves in grocery stores, a practice begun by Piggly Wiggly in 1916. In fact, shoppers were in store for many food innovations in the next few years: sliced bread in 1928, milk sold in plastic-coated paper cartons in 1932, beer sold in cans in 1935.

Jack Long capitalized on the serve-yourself innovation in grocery shopping in 1922 with his first Helpy-Selfy store in Dallas.

Long moved from Dallas to Fort Worth and established the chain’s headquarters here in 1927. The Helpy-Selfy chain really took off in the late 1920s. By franchising the chain spread to several other Texas towns.

grocery helpy dmn 1929 2

helpy 1929By 1929 Texas had thirty-three stores, fifteen of them in Fort Worth.

1930 helpy

This ad is from 1930. “Free Yellow Cab service Saturday to and from all stores.”

By 1931 Helpy-Selfy store no. 1 was at 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue/526 South Henderson Street in the rounded building that had opened in 1929 as Alexander-Bale South Side Store.

In 1932 Alexander-Bale took over the Helpy-Selfy stores. In turn, in 1935 Alexander-Bale was taken over by the Worth supermarket chain. Some Helpy-Selfy stores continued to operate independently.


The “seventeen clean stores” of the Helpy-Selfy chain in the early 1930s were proud of the endorsement of “Miss Decker.” Viola Decker, General Electric home economist, conducted the annual Star-Telegram Cooking School.

helpy 1925Helpy-Selfy stores competed with Piggly Wiggly stores for shoppers’ dollars. The two chains even competed in sports.

By 1953 only three Helpy-Selfy stores survived in Fort Worth. In 1955 the last Helpy-Selfy, at 2810 West Berry, became Sheldon’s menswear store.

Jack Long died in 1961. He is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.

Cowtown Yoostabes, Corner Edition: Neighborhood Grocery Stores

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