At the Zippy Mart

Yesterday’s Zippy takes us to a convenience store, whose name communicates speedy service and also seems to refer to him (so that he takes a proprietary interest in the business):


A previous strip (#2 here) looked at a different kind of Zippy Mart, a fantasy store that carries everything Zippy ever wanted, for free: Vaseline, Wheat Thins, Judge Judy t-shirts, Poindexter barbats in mauve, yellow, and plaid.

The Zippy Mart in #1 here is a real thing, a chain with both convenience stores and now gas and service stations in many locations. From a 1/19/12 obit on a convenience store site:

Jacksonville FL. George Helow, 90, who turned seven Jacksonville convenience stores into a chain of 370 Zippy Marts in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama, died on January 17.

… At one point, Zippy Mart was the largest solely owned convenience store chain in the country, according to the report. In a 1976 interview with the Times-Union, Helow credited much of his success to the fact that revenues could be used for expansion rather than stockholders’ earnings since it was solely owned.

His c-store career began in 1960 when he invested in Paks stores with Ed Pack, for whom the chain was named. By 1965, they had six locations in Miami and seven in Jacksonville.

“He was frustrated because he thought they were growing way too slowly and saw a real opportunity to expand these stores,” his son said.

So Helow bought out the Jacksonville stores and changed their names to Zippy Mart. He increased fast-food and sandwich service as well as self-service gasoline dispensers, long before most chains. His stores also were about 400 square feet smaller than most, and he was one of the first to use four-foot shelves so clerks could view the layout.

… He served as president of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) in 1977.

… Helow sold his chain to Sun Oil Co. (Sunoco) in 1981, the Times-Union said.

The company name plays on the adjective zippy. From NOAD2:

bright, fresh, or lively: a zippy, zingy, almost citrusy tang; fast or speedy: zippy new sedans

And in turn the adjective is derived from the informal noun zip:

energy; vigor: he’s full of zip

Personal note: my dad’s college nickname was Zip (because he was full of zip). Then he met Marcella Rice (my mother), who went by the name of Marty from her early years; she hated the name Marcella. So I grew up with parents named Marty and Zip (which at first sounded to me like a team of working-class comics, but then just became their ordinary names, no longer at all odd to me).

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