Companies and Brands

These Baby Boomer Brands Are Still Booming After All These Years

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Baby Boomers are typically defined as those born between 1946 and 1964. This generation was formed by some of the most important and tumultuous years in American history. They remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. Baby Boomers can recall the horror of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. They experienced the Vietnam War, and they remember when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

As Baby Boomers came of age during these tumultuous times, they also came to know and love certain brands. Amid world events that often seemed turbulent and uncertain, these brands were reassuring and steadying forces in American life. Sadly for many Baby Boomers, though, many of those beloved brands no longer exist today.

For example, the first car for many Baby Boomers may have been a Plymouth or an Oldsmobile. Perhaps they took pictures on a Minolta camera and then had the film developed at Fotomat. Many Baby Boomers remember shopping at Woolworth’s or buying furniture at Levitz. None of those brands from yesteryear are still in business today. (For more brands that collapsed, many of which Baby Boomers will remember well, check out this list.)

Of course, this doesn’t mean all the brands that Baby Boomers remember are gone. Some, in fact, are still thriving in 2024. Here’s a look at eleven Baby Boomer brands that are still booming.

To compile this list, 24/7 Wall St. consulted a report recently released by Yelp detailing the current 50 fastest-growing brands. The report was created using blended weighted metrics that included new business openings, consumer interest, and searches on Yelp from 2022 to 2023.

Newer Fast-Growing Brands

CAVA Maryland
Source: G. Edward Johnson / Wikimedia Commons
CAVA topped Yelp’s list of the 50 fastest-growing brands.

Some of the brands on the list are relatively new. For example, CAVA is the fastest-growing brand on the list. The fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant chain was launched in 2010. Playa Bowls, a health food brand that landed in the top 50, was formed in 2014.

However, while there are a few newbies on this list, a surprising number of older companies landed among the 50 fastest-growing brands. These are brands that Baby Boomers fondly remember, but they clearly have multi-generational appeal.

These eleven brands are listed according to their founding year, from newest to oldest.

11. Jack’s

Jack's logo
Source: Jack's / Public domain / Wikimedia Commons

  • Year Founded: 1960
  • Rank Among the 50 Fastest-Growing Brands: 34th

A Quick Snapshot of Jack’s

Hamburger with grilled onions, Jack's restaurant, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Source: Infrogmation of New Orleans / Wikimedia Commons
The hamburger with grilled onions is a popular choice at Jack’s.

Jack’s Hamburgers was founded in Homewood, Alabama. The walk-up hamburger joint became a popular eatery, offering 10¢ sodas, 15¢ fries, and 20¢ shakes. Today, customers can still order tasty burgers, maybe topped with grilled onions.

Now known simply as Jack’s, the brand ranked 34th on the list of the 50 fastest-growing brands. Even with this impressive growth, Jack’s still lives by its “All About the South” motto. Jack’s locations are only found in four southern states: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

10. Jersey Mike’s Subs

Jersey Mikes Subs
Source: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons
Jersey Mike’s is the 10th fastest-growing brand on Yelp’s list.
  • Year Founded: 1956
  • Rank Among the 50 Fastest-Growing Brands: 10th

A Quick Snapshot of Jersey Mike’s Subs

Jersey Shores Favorite at Jersey Mikes
Source: Ser Amantio di Nicolao / Wikimedia Commons
The Jersey Shores Favorite is a popular sandwich at Jersey Mike’s.

Mike’s Subs opened in the seaside town of Point Pleasant, New Jersey in 1956. The strategic location on the Jersey Shore made this submarine sandwich shop a popular destination, especially during vacation season.

Peter Cancro bought the store when he was only 17 years old in 1975. He began franchising the business, now known as Jersey Mike’s Subs, in 1987.

Today, there are over 2,700 Jersey Mike’s locations and nearly 300 more that are scheduled to open soon. It is the tenth fastest-growing business on Yelp’s list. Americans truly seem to believe that, as Jersey Mike’s slogan says, the brand is “a sub above.”

The franchise has stores in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There are also two stores in Ontario, with further expansion planned in Canada. There is also a Jersey Mike’s in Guadalajara, Mexico.

9. Waffle House

Athens, USA - June 1, 2011: Waffle House is an iconic diner in the Southern United States and is popular for both breakfast and late night dining.
Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
Waffle House is open 24/7.
  • Year Founded: 1955
  • Rank Among the 50 Fastest-Growing Brands: 39th

A Quick Snapshot of Waffle House

Indianapolis - Circa April 2021: Waffle House Iconic Southern Restaurant Chain. Waffle House was founded in 1955.
Source: jetcityimage / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
Yelp listed Waffle House as the 39th fastest-growing brand.

Joe Rogers Sr. and Tom Forkner founded Waffle House in Avondale Estates, Georgia on Labor Day weekend in 1955. The sit-down restaurant in the Atlanta suburb was open 24 hours a day. At the time, there was only one other Atlanta restaurant that was open 24 hours.

The two chose a bright yellow sign to attract attention. The name, Waffle House, was chosen because waffles were the most profitable item on the menu. Also, “House” communicated that this was not about takeout. It was an establishment that invited customers to come in and sit down for a hot meal.

Since the opening of that first Georgia store in 1955, Waffle House has expanded to more than 1,900 locations in 25 states. All of them are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you ever have a hankering for pecan waffles or smothered hash browns at 2:00 a.m., Waffle House will always be there for you.

The Waffle House franchise is still expanding, so much so that it landed at #39 on Yelp’s list of the fastest-growing brands.

8. Jack in the Box

Salinas, United States - April 8, 2014: Jack in the Box Restaurant exterior. Jack in the Box is an American fast-food restaurant chain with  2,200 locations, primarily serving the West Coast of the United States.
Source: Wolterk / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
Jack in the Box came of age alongside Baby Boomers.
  • Year Founded: 1951
  • Rank Among the 50 Fastest-Growing Brands: 12th

A Quick Snapshot of Jack in the Box

Las Vegas - Circa July 2017: Jack-In-The-Box Fast Food Restaurant.
Source: jetcityimage / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
Jack in the Box is found in 22 states.

Robert O. Peterson opened the first Jack in the Box in San Diego in 1951. The hamburger stand was built with the drive-thru as the main focus. Other restaurant brands had already implemented a drive-thru, but Jack in the Box was the first to use a two-way intercom for ordering. Today, about 90% of Jack in the Box patrons still use the drive-thru or carryout options.

Today, if you crave a Jumbo Jack or an order of popcorn chicken, you can find them at approximately 2,200 Jack in the Box locations in 22 states and the U.S. territory of Guam. The franchise’s impressive growth qualified for 12th on Yelp’s list.

7. REI

REI Co-Op sign
Source: Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States / Wikimedia Commons
REI dates back to 1938.
  • Year Founded: 1938
  • Rank Among the 50 Fastest-Growing Brands: 33rd

A Quick Snapshot of REI

REI in Hillsboro, Oregon
Source: M.O. Stevens / Wikimedia Commons
REI has locations in 41 states, including this one in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Recreational Equipment, Inc., better known as REI, was founded by a husband and wife who loved the outdoors but were frustrated at the high cost and inaccessibility of outdoor gear. When they could not find an affordable ice axe in their home area of Seattle, they imported one from Austria. This spawned the idea to set up a cooperative to make it easier for outdoor enthusiasts to find the equipment they needed.

Today, REI is the largest consumer cooperative in the U.S. The community boasts 23 million lifetime members. There are over 181 REI locations in 41 states and the District of Columbia. REI is the 33rd fastest-growing brand on Yelp’s list.

6. Ethan Allen

Ethan Allen, Lexington Avenue NYC
Source: Jleewriter208 / Wikimedia Commons
Ethan Allen cracked into the top 50 fastest-growing brands according to Yelp.
  • Year Founded: 1932
  • Rank Among the 50 Fastest-Growing Brands: 50th

A Quick Snapshot of Ethan Allen

Ethan Allen Store in Ann Arbor, MI
Source: Dwight Burdette at English Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons
Ethan Allen has been producing home furnishings since the 1930s.

Nat Ancell and Ted Baumritter founded a housewares sales agency in 1932. Three years later, the two brothers-in-law purchased a bankrupt sawmill in Vermont where they began manufacturing home furnishings. In 1939, the company debuted a 28-piece line of colonial-style furniture. This line was named in honor of Ethan Allen who was one of Vermont’s founders and a Revolutionary War hero who was instrumental in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga. The company would officially adopt the Ethan Allen name 30 years later.

Along with its online business, Ethan Allen has nearly 170 physical locations in the U.S. It ranked 50th on Yelp’s list of the 50 fastest-growing brands.

5. Ace Hardware Corporation

Ace Hardware in South Pasadena, California
Source: TaurusEmerald / Wikimedia Commons
The vast majority of Ace stores are locally owned and operated.
  • Year Founded: 1924
  • Rank Among the Fastest-Growing Brands: 24th

A Quick Snapshot of Ace Hardware Corporation

Bethlehem, NC, USA-June 5, 2019: A local Ace Hardware, a branch of an American hardware retailers' cooperative, the world's largest, and based in Oak Brook, ILL.
Source: J. Michael Jones / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
Ace Hardware has over 5,800 stores.

Ace Stores opened in 1924 when four Chicago entrepreneurs, Frank Burke, Oscar Fisher, Richard Hesse, and E. Gunnard Lindquist, combined their hardware stores into one entity. The company’s name was changed to Ace Hardware Corporation seven years later. The name was chosen to honor the brave fighter pilots of World War I who were often known as “aces.” Ace Hardware Corporation celebrates its centennial anniversary this year.

From its inception in the mid-1920s, Ace Hardware has expanded to over 5,800 stores operating in approximately 60 countries. The hardware giant continues to expand, qualifying for #24 on the list of the 50 fastest-growing brands as reported by Yelp. Despite its growth, almost all Ace Hardware stores are locally owned and operated.

4. Rack Room Shoes

Rack Room Shoes, Lake Charles, LA
Source: Vammolot / Wikimedia Commons
Rack Room Shoes ranked 29th on Yelp’s list.
  • Year Founded: 1922
  • Rank Among the 50 Fastest-Growing Brands: 29th

A Quick Snapshot of Rack Room Shoes

Rack Room Shoes, Orange Park Mall
Source: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons
Many malls are dying, but Rack Room Shoes is still growing.

Mort Lerner founded Rack Room Shoes in Salisbury, North Carolina in 1922. Today, the company’s headquarters remain in the Tar Heel State, located in the nearby city of Charlotte.

Rack Room Shoes purchased Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse in 2002. While Rack Room had been focused on shoes for the whole family, Off Broadway was a more fashion-forward company.

The brand has more than 500 physical stores along with its online presence, which landed it at #29 on Yelp’s list of the 50 fastest-growing brands.

3. Red Wing Shoes

Red Wing Shoes Store
Source: ajay_suresh / Wikimedia Commons
Red Wing Shoes has been manufacturing footwear for American workers since 1905.
  • Year Founded: 1905
  • Rank Among the 50 Fastest-Growing Brands: 46th

A Quick Snapshot of Red Wing Shoes

Red Wing Shoes Museum - Wall of Honor
Source: Myotus / Wikimedia Commons
The Red Wing Museum in Red Wing, MN includes a Wall of Honor.

Charles Beckman and other investors launched Red Wing Shoes in 1905 in Red Wing, Minnesota. The company’s headquarters are still located in that same city in the North Star State.

Red Wing Shoes has always focused on footwear for the working person. The original boots were made with “pegged-and-nailed construction.” Red Wing’s first boot for women, known as the “Gloria,” was released in 1926.

Today, the footwear company’s distribution network includes 110 countries. It continues to be a leader in work footwear, placing 46th on Yelp’s list of the 50 fastest-growing brands.

There is even a Red Wing Museum located in Red Wing, MN. Visitors can learn all about the history of this legendary American company. They can also view the world’s largest boot. It’s a size 638 ½ and stands over 20 feet tall!

2. Nordstrom

West Palm Beach, Florida, USA - September 7, 2011: This image shows a Nordstrom retail store at a suburban shopping mall. Nordstrom offers apparel, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics and accessories for women, men and kids. They carry most of the popular designer brands.
Source: NoDerog / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
A Nordstrom location in West Palm Beach, Florida is seen here.
  • Year Founded: 1901
  • Rank Among the 50 Fastest-Growing Brands: 16th

A Quick Snapshot of Nordstrom

Nordstrom Rack
Source: Rob Hayek via 24/7 Wall Street
Over 70% of Nordstrom’s physical locations in the U.S. are Nordstrom Rack stores.

John W. Nordstrom immigrated to the U.S. from Sweden in 1887. He was 16 years old and had just $5 to his name when he arrived in New York. He worked in mines and logging camps as he traveled across the country to California. He then headed to Alaska in search of gold. When the young man returned to Seattle with a $13,000 stake, he partnered with Carl F. Wallin to open a shoe store in 1901. That store was the beginning of what would become the retailer known as Nordstrom.

Today, the luxury department store chain is still headquartered in Seattle. There are over 360 locations in the U.S. Of those locations, 93 are Nordstrom stores and 258 are Nordstrom Rack stores (the off-price retail division of Nordstrom, Inc.). Those stores, combined with the brand’s online presence, landed it at #16 on the Yelp list.

1. Levi Strauss & Co.

Levi Strauss vintage sign
Source: Cullen328 photo by Jim Heaphy / Wikimedia Commons
The Levi Strauss & Co. brand is a true American icon.
  • Year Founded: 1853
  • Rank Among the 50 Fastest-Growing Brands: 15

A Quick Snapshot of Levi Strauss & Co.

BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 08:  In this photo illustration Levi's 501 blue jeans by U.S. clothing manufacturer Levi Strauss are seen on March 8, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.
Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images News via Getty Images
Levi Strauss & Co. invented what we now know as “blue jeans.”

At 171 years old, Levi Strauss & Co. is the oldest brand on Yelp’s list of the 50 fastest-growing brands. Impressively, it placed 15th on that list. Despite its age, this brand remains popular, not only with Baby Boomers but also with the following generations. Only a small handful of brands have remained as relevant and profitable for as long as Levi Strauss & Co.

Born in Bavaria in 1829, Levi Strauss immigrated to the U.S. and spent his formative years working in the family dry goods business in New York City. He moved to San Francisco during the Gold Rush and opened his own store in 1853, marking the birth of the Levi Strauss brand.

Strauss recognized the need for tougher, more durable workwear. He joined forces with tailor Jacob Davis to combine denim with copper rivets in 1873. Today, we know the product as “blue jeans.” It remains one of the most enduring fashion trends in modern history.

Today, along with its online presence, Levi Strauss & Co. operates approximately 500 stores worldwide and serves more than 100 countries.

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