Hen House Founders

The History of Our Grocery Store

In 1923, my grandparents, Sidney and Mollie Ball, started a small neighborhood grocery store on the corner of 6th and Stewart streets in Kansas City, Kansas.

There was no money to hire help, so the two of them ran the grocery store from early in the morning to late evening. My grandmother ran the cash register and kept the books; my grandfather stocked the shelves, went to the market, and unloaded the truck.

As their business grew, they were able to hire a couple of employees to help out. Today that humble beginning has evolved into a multimillion-dollar corporation called Ball’s Food stores.

There are currently 27 stores that spread throughout the metropolitan area under the names of Hen House Market, Ball’s Price Chopper, Payless Discount Foods and SunFresh Market. Nearly 4,000 people – we like to refer to them as teammates – work in those stores. “Our grocery store,” as my grandfather said decades ago, “is only as good as the people who work there.” We are very fortunate to have dedicated people who create great stores for our customers.

Ball’s Food Stores has come a long way since my grandparents opened their first store in 1923. I take great pride in being a part of the best grocery operation in the area, and even greater pride in being the third generation to lead this company, following in the footsteps of my father, Fred Ball.

– David Ball

Balls Food Stores Historical Timeline


Sidney and Mollie Ball open a small neighborhood grocery store with a monthly credit system and home delivery.


Sidney has a new idea, cash and carry, and opens a second store with this new concept that offered lower prices.


Mollie Ball makes take-home dinners to sell for working mothers during World War II. Her meat loaf became famous throughout the neighborhood.


Ball’s opens Kansas City’s first large-scale “supermarket” and customers flock to the new store.


Their second “supermarket” opens and Sidney and Mollie’s son, Fred, joins the business after college.


The Pillsbury Doughboy is born and Fred prepares the company for expansion and the rapid industry changes that lie ahead.


Second Generation of family management Sidney and Mollie turn over control of the Company to their only son, Fred Ball.


The Company purchased two Kansas City conventional markets called Hen House that had a citywide reputation for fresh poultry and seafood from Buck Hinson.


Balls Food Stores has grown to be the largest retail grocer in Kansas City.


A third generation, David Ball, takes the reins and continues the family tradition of providing great food at a great price.


Remodeling of Leawood Hen House Market


94 years as Kansas City’s Local hometown Market