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TG&Y exhibit recalls golden years of Oklahoma-based chain

At its peak TG&Y had 900 stores and did $2 billion in sales annually. An exhibit featuring TG&Y memorabilia is open at the Chisholm Trail Museum in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.
by Matt Patterson Published: February 2, 2014

Browsing through the recently opened TG&Y exhibit at the Chisholm Trail Museum in Kingfisher, memories come flooding back for Susy Cox-Wilson.

Cox-Wilson's father James served as TG&Y's vice president and treasurer during the store's halcyon days in the 1960s and '70s. While a college student, Cox-Wilson spent her weekends working at a TG&Y store at Hefner and May in Oklahoma City.

“I remember it being the place to go,” Cox-Wilson said. “To us it had everything in it. We couldn't imagine anything bigger. We had fabric, to hamsters, to penny candy. Kids could come in and get a penny's worth of candy that would fill up a bag.”

In its golden days, TG&Y was based in Oklahoma City and had 900 stores from California to Florida. The chain pulled in about $2 billion annually in sales at its peak.

But the good times didn't last. The chain gradually faded before being purchased by another chain in 1986.

The TG&Y name came from the initials of its founders — Rawdon Tomlinson, Enoch Gosselin and Raymond Young. The men all had a history in retail. Young opened his first five-and-dime store in 1927 in Kingfisher.

Chisholm Trail Museum director Adam Lynn said the three men began talk of merging their stores while at a trade show in Oklahoma City.

“They all talked about how they didn't like buying from a middle man,” Lynn said. “They formed Central Merchandising, which became TG&Y as they opened up new stores.”

The first TG&Y store opened in 1936 in Norman.

But well before that, Young had opened his first store, and that building would later become a TG&Y. Now, it is a flower shop owned by Dennis Mueggenborg. Growing up he was familiar with TG&Y and then as an adult he got a visit from one of the founders.

“We were working the back and the doorbell rang and there was an older gentleman and two ladies, and I spoke to them and they said there was someone with them they thought I might like to meet, and it turned out to be Mr. Young,” Mueggenborg said. “I was shocked. He had made the trip to Kingfisher because he wanted to see his original place of business.”

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by Matt Patterson
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun....
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If you go

Chisholm Trail Museum

The Chisholm Trail Museum, 605 Zellers Ave. in Kingfisher, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $4 for adults ages 19 and up and $2 for children ages 6 to 18.


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