T, G & Y was named for its three founders; Rawdon E. Tomlinson, Enoch L. Gosselin and Raymond A. Young.

Previous to this, each of the three retailers had operated small variety store chains in the Sooner State. Tomlinson, Gosselin and Young met at a trade show and decided to pool their assets into the creation of the Central Merchandise Corporation, the T G & Y parent company. The first T, G & Y store opened, in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1936.

In late 1957, Chicago-based Butler Brothers, a distributor and operator of retail stores, acquired the assets of T G & Y, but operated the division as an autonomous entity. In turn, Butler Brothers was bought by Chicago-based City Products Corporation in February 1960. The T G & Y division remained an independently-operated unit.

Following the lead of Kresge-Kmart and Woolworth-Woolco, T G & Y opened its own version of the discount mart in the 1960s. The typical T G & Y Family Center would encompass between 20,000 and 80,000 square feet.

In 1969, Scott Stores, a division of City Products, was merged into T G & Y. There were now T G & Y's in twenty-nine states. The chain was acquired by McCrory Stores in January 1986 and operated, under the T G & Y banner, until its dissolution, in February 2002.