SMART & FINAL IS CELEBRATING CHAIN'S 125TH ANNIVERSARY

VERNON, Calif. -- Smart & Final here commemorated its 125th anniversary last week with a 16-page circular that outlined the chain's history. The company proclaimed itself "the oldest and largest warehouse grocery chain in the country." Smart & Final operates 158 stores in California, Nevada and Arizona, with its first stores in Florida scheduled to open next week. In a circular distributed here, the

VERNON, Calif. -- Smart & Final here commemorated its 125th anniversary last week with a 16-page circular that outlined the chain's history. The company proclaimed itself "the oldest and largest warehouse grocery chain in the country." Smart & Final operates 158 stores in California, Nevada and Arizona, with its first stores in Florida scheduled to open next week. In a circular distributed here, the company traced its origins back to 1871, when Hellman, Haas & Co. was founded. Hellman was a wholesale company that would eventually acquire Smart & Final. When Herman W. Hellman sold his interest in Hellman, Haas & Co. to Abe Haas and Jacob Baruch in 1889, the company changed its name to Haas, Baruch & Co. Haas, Baruch introduced its first private-label item -- canned tomatoes -- under the Iris name in 1895. While Haas, Baruch continued to grow, another aspect of Smart & Final's history was being played out. A company called Santa Ana Wholesale Co. was acquired in 1914 by a onetime banker from Saginaw, Mich., named J.S. Smart, who was joined a year later by H.D. Final, after which the company became Smart & Final Wholesale Grocers. Smart & Final opened the first cash-and-carry store west of Chicago in Long Beach, Calif., in 1923; by 1949 it had 65 locations. In 1953 Haas, Baruch & Co. acquired Smart & Final and changed the corporate name to Smart & Final Iris Co. to reflect its well-known private-label brand.