Our History Began with Retail

Mammoth Mart was a discount department store chain, located in the northeastern United States, primarily in the New England area. The chain was founded by Max Coffman in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1956 and was something of a prototype for the large department stores, selling housewares, hardware and clothing in suburban shopping center locations.

Their advertising mascot was Marty the elephant, a smiling, blazer-wearing mammoth.

Max Coffman

Max Coffman

Onetime grocery store delivery boy who later founded the Mammoth Mart discount store chain, which, at its peak, had nearly 90 stores along the Eastern Seaboard. Coffman’s stores pioneered many practices familiar today and even advised Sam Walton (founder of Wal-Mart) when he was starting out. Coffman won the Horatio Alger award in 1967 for outstanding individuals who have succeeded in spite of adversity and later was a noted philanthropist.

Horatio Alger Award

The Award symbolizes the Association’s values, including personal initiative and perseverance, leadership and commitment to excellence, belief in the free-enterprise system and the importance of higher education, community service, and the vision and determination to achieve a better future.

1967 Horatio Alger Award Recipient

Max Coffman

President, Mammoth Mart, Inc.

“Don’t run away from life.”

Max Coffman was one of eight children born to Russian immigrant parents in Quincy, Massachusetts. He started working at an early age and contributed to the family income by delivering groceries as a boy. After high school, he began his education in retail by working for a local department store while attending Northeastern University at night.

In 1935, Coffman joined the predecessor company of Food Fair and had the chief responsibility of opening new stores. Two years later, Stop & Shop, a leading New England food chain, recruited him.

In 1946, Coffman ventured out on his own, operating a small chain of retail stores in New England. About 12 years later, he opened the first Mammoth Mart in Framingham. By the time Coffman was honored as a 1967 Horatio Alger Award recipient, he was chairman of the board of a chain of 20 Mammoth Mart discount department stores that generated more than $50 million in sales annually. He sold his operations 10 years later, which then included 90 stores along the East Coast.

Coffman once said his Horatio Alger Award reflected his personal philosophy.

“If you work hard, opportunity will come along, and you’ll be ready for it. Be determined, work hard, run fast, and fear nothing as you go up the ladder. Surround yourself with the best people you can find. Share responsibility, face adversity with determination, and never give up. Keep fighting, and you will succeed. Above all, be a good leader.”

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