||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (August 2011)|
Mr. Hooper's Store is an integral business and meeting-place on the television show Sesame Street. Its owners have been Mr. Hooper, David, Mr. Handford, and Alan; these managers have been assisted by Tom, Cookie Monster, Bert, Linda, Petey, Gina, Carlo, Natalie, Gabi, and Chris at times.
Founded by Mr. Harold Hooper in 1951, the store originally ran along the lines of a general/candy store. The menu was extensive and suited to the dietary needs of the different cultures that lived on Sesame Street; along with traditional American diner-type food, the restaurant even served birdseed milkshakes for Big Bird. Not only was the menu broad, the store stocked up in everything from dry goods to soap dishes. The store even sold empty cigar boxes for a while, as evidenced in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street; this is unusual, as no one has ever smoked cigarettes, cigars, or pipes in public on Sesame Street, but the boxes were likely used to store stuff.
Based on the Bert and Ernie skit There were monkeys in my bed, in which the song "Living in, on, and under" is sung, it may be plausible that Hooper's is open in early morning hours like a convenience store or truck stop. If this is the case, it is even plausible that Natalie or another New Yorker manages the store during the off-hours for Alan, the present operator of the store.
During the initial seasons, until Will Lee's death, the store was run by Mr. Hooper.
During Season 3 (1971), Larry Block played Tom, a man who worked at Hooper's. Cookie Monster worked at the store in a few episodes (though his large appetite tended to cause problems in a store that sells food).
In one episode, Linda took charge working for this store while Mr. Hooper went away.
David and Gina
David, a young African-American who moved to Sesame Street in the early 1970s was soon hired by Mr. Hooper as an assistant. David was originally conceived as a hip, upbeat individual fresh out of high school who was fond of eccentric hats and singing. Although he appeared in Season 3, he began working at the store in Season 4 while studying law at college.
Mr. Hooper left David the store in his will. During seasons 16 and 17, a teenaged boy named Petey (played by Eddie Castrodad) worked at the store. Following this, David hired a new resident of the area, Gina (played by Alison Bartlett-O'Reilly) in 1987. This young teenage girl helped David as he himself had helped Mr. Hooper.
David ran the establishment from 1983 until 1989 (when Northern Calloway, the actor that played David, left the show). It was said that he moved to live with his grandmother in 1989. Actually, Northern Calloway was forced to leave the show for health reasons, and died in 1990.
David's final appearance was the season finale of Season 20 (the birth of Maria and Luis' daughter). Gina continued to work at the store for a couple of years after was bought out by Mr. Handford. Partway through the 1990s, she got a new job at the local daycare, until she finished college and remained on the show as a veterinarian.
Mr. Handford and Carlo
The enthusiastic Mr. Handford was a new character brought to the show exclusively to run the store, a change from the previous new managements of David and Gina, who started out as characters before store operators. This African-American man was a retired firefighter who bought the store to keep active.
Although Leonard Jackson played him in Season 21, he was then recast and David L. Smyrl took over the role. While Jackson portrayed Mr. Handford as something of a “grumpy old man” with little patience for his friends’ quirks, Smyrl made the character much more cheerful, friendly, and quite young at heart.
In 1991, Sully and Biff tried to hang a picture frame, but one blow from their hammer caused the entire woodwork of the store to fall apart. No one was hurt, but the store was ruined. Mr. Handford considered forgetting about the store, but everyone convinced him that they needed it, so they all pitched in to rebuild it.
A teenager named Carlo (played by Carlo Alban) first appeared in 1993 as one of Gordon’s students. In 1995, he was hired to work at the store.
Mr. Handford and Carlo ran the store until 1998 when the actors left the show. There was no on screen explanation to the characters' departures, though it's been cited that Mr. Handford had sold the store to Alan (played by Alan Muraoka) that year.
Natalie fills in for a vacationing Alan
In season 35, Natalie was hired by Alan to sub in for him while he took a vacation. Big Bird and Baby Bear are initially very anxious of the big change, but Natalie gradually assures them things will be fine. Natalie was played by guest star Natalie Portman. Portman was set to star as Natalie in three episodes in the 2004 season, but due to her losing her voice, Sesame Workshop had to film the other two episodes with Gabi in charge.
Chris joins Alan
In Season 38, Chris Robinson joined Alan in running Mr. Hooper's Store. Chris is played by Chris Knowings, and is the nephew of Gordon and Susan.