America's discount mart phenomenon started in the Northeastern states. Chains such as Ames, Ann & Hope, Caldor, J.M. Fields and Mammoth Mart had their meager beginnings in the textile mills of New England that had been abandoned as the industry relocated southward.

Other chains commenced operation in old factories or newly-built store structures, joining the growing discount retail trend. Several of these chains would get embroiled in legal battles with local and state governing agencies. During the mid-century years, several states enforced so-called "blue laws", which forbade stores to be open on Sundays.

These statutes were challenged in several court cases in the early 1960s and were reduced in their impact. However, some aspects of blue laws (such as the outlaw of Sunday liquor sales) remain in force to this day.