William Thomas Grant's retail empire traced its humble beginnings to the "W.T. Grant Company 25 Cent Store", which opened December 6, 1906, in Lynn, Massachusetts.

By the mid-century years, the chain had grown into the nation's third-largest variety store operation, with stores in forty states. Although often classed as a 5 & 10-type operation, Grants stores were a bit more upscale in their appearance and merchandising.

The company entered the realm of discount mart retail in the mid-1960s with large-format Grant City stores. These proved to be an unsuccessful venture.

In addition to profitability problems with the Grant City division, the company suffered as a result of the decision to pay stock dividends while teetering toward bankruptcy. An absurdly-lenient credit extension policy, initiated in 1969, also contributed to its decline.

Attempts at corporate reorganization failed and the last Grants stores were shuttered March 26, 1976.