Smart & Final is a truly unique company, combining today's state-of-the-art technologies and management practices with the historical perspective of one of the West's pioneer companies.
The year was 1871, and Los Angeles was a small, dusty, ranching town. Streets were unpaved, buildings were modestly wood or adobe and the enclave's 6,000 residents probably were outnumbered by local sheep and cattle. Los Angeles mainly produced hides, wool and tallow. Indeed Los Angeles couldn't begin to compare with its northern neighbor, bustling, cosmopolitan San Francisco.
But Los Angeles' rural ambiance didn't deter partners Herman Hellman, Jacob Haas and Bernard Cohn from launching a new grocery business. Housed in a two-story brick building on Los Angeles Street, Hellman-Haas Grocery Co. sold necessities of the day including flour, brown sugar, salt, patent medicines, rope, sheepherding supplies, chewing tobacco and gunpowder.
Packaged goods were unknown: Hellman, Haas' food staples arrived in bulk and typically were sold by weight. There were prunes in huge casks, barrels of currants from Greece and rice for the town's burgeoning Chinese population. So vital was the store that Hellman, Haas was one of seven names in the first Los Angeles phone directory!