The Best of the Texas Century—Business

Chain of the Century

All convenience stores are 7-Elevens—not literally, of course, but just as all colas are Cokes and all tissues are Kleenex, the brand is such an icon that it’s practically synonymous with the product. There are 5,600 or so 7-Eleven locations in the U.S. today, each open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, meaning if you absolutely, positively need a Slurpee or a Big Gulp or a Slim Jim at three in the morning, no problem. That wasn’t quite what the Southland Ice Company of Dallas had in mind in the late twenties when its sixteen ice stores in Oak Cliff began selling milk, eggs, and bread, but as the saying goes, from small things big things one day come. Or to put it another way: Oh, thank heaven. Runner-up: San Antonio–based H-E-B, the eight-hundred-pound gorilla of Texas grocers, with 266 locations in the U.S. and Mexico, including three Central Markets—the most talked-about supermarket concept in the country. Evan Smith

Salesman of the Century

Barely in her twenties, newly divorced, with three children to support, Mary Kay Ash went to work

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