Modelled after Oregon's Fred Meyer stores, Valu-Mart was founded by Seattle-based Weisfield's, Incorporated and began business, in Seattle, in 1955. Like Fred Meyer, singular Valu-Mart locations were referred to as "shopping centers", although they were not composed of several different, independently-operated stores.

A typical Valu-Mart would envelop between 55,000 and 98,000 square feet and include a discount department store, supermarket, pharmacy and, perhaps, a Buffeteria Restaurant.

A primary difference between Fred Meyer and Valu-Mart stores was that Valu-Mart was originally a membership-only enterprise. Early Valu-Mart stores were located in, and around, Seattle, and in Tacoma, Bellevue and Kent. The Spokane market was entered in 1960. In 1962 and '63, stores were established in Portland and Eugene, Oregon. However, these Beaver State stores were branded as Villa-Mart.

The membership-only format was abolished in August 1965. By this time, there were ten Valu-Mart and Villa-Mart stores. A Reno, Nevada location was open by 1967, followed by an Anchorage, Alaska store in 1970. The store count had grown to eighteen by this time.

The official name of Valu-Mart and Villa-Mart stores in Washington State and Oregon was changed to Leslies Valu-Mart in September 1974 and then truncated to simply Leslies in November of the same year.

This name change could not have been done at a worse time. The Boeing Bust economic slowdown in the Pacific Northwest made for some tough times, retail-wise. The chain began to founder and started to sell stores in 1973. By August 1975, it had gone completely out of business. Eight Valu-Mart and Leslies stores were sold to Portland's Fred Meyer chain. Another location was acquired by Pay Less Drug.