1939: James “J.J.” Lawson founds the Lawson’s Milk Co. in Cuyahoga Falls, and begins selling milk in gallon-size glass bottles, something new for the time. The jug would become his store’s icon, and milk sold in gallons is Lawson’s claim to fame.
1958: Lawson sells his stores, more than 190 locations, to Consolidated Foods for $10 million.
1962: James Lawson dies June 23 from injuries suffered in a head-on car crash on Graham Road near his home in Stow. He was 74.
1960-1984: Consolidated Foods continues to operate Lawson’s in Ohio and several other states, and the chain grows to more than 700 stores. Lawson’s brands of Big-O orange juice, eggnog, ice cream and chip dip become popular, entrenched local brands.
1975: Consolidated signs an agreement with Daiei Inc., one of Japan’s largest grocery chains, to operate Lawson’s stores there. The first Lawson’s opens in Japan in April 1975.
1979: Lawson Japan Inc. becomes the official company name, as it becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Daiei. Stores there operate under the name Lawson and Lawson Station.
1984: Consolidated sells its 700-plus U.S. stores to Dairy Mart, a Connecticut company. Dairy Mart moves its corporate headquarters to Hudson. Dairy Mart acquires the Lawson’s store brands, including Big-O orange juice and Lawson’s Original Chip Dip.
1996: Lawson Japan opens first store in China (today there are 363).
2001: Mitsubishi Corp. becomes the main shareholder in Lawson’s Japan. Company is known as Lawson Inc.
2002: Dairy Mart files for bankruptcy. A Canadian company, Alimentation Couche-Tard, acquires the Dairy Mart stores and renames them Circle K. All Lawson brands are phased out except the chip dip, which continues to be made by Dairymens Dairy in Cleveland, and still is sold at Circle K.
May 2011: Lawson Inc. opens 10,000th store in Japan.
July 2011: Lawson Inc. opens first store in Indonesia.
January 2012: Lawson Inc. forms Lawson USA Hawaii Inc.
July 6, 2012: Lawson USA Hawaii Inc. opens two Lawson stores in Honolulu, with plans for 20 to 30 more Hawaiian stores within the next three years.