It was first established in 1918 by three Jewish Lithuanian immigrant brothers, Sam (1898–1939), Maurice (1891–1970), and Herman (1889–1971) Sanditen, who opened the first Otasco store in Okmulgee. The company moved its headquarters to Tulsa in 1925. The company based its business on offering its products on credit.
In 1960, the McCrory Corporation bought the company, while retaining the Sanditen brothers. In 1968, the chain had 455 units in 12 states. In 1984, the firm's employees bought the company from McCrory, creating one of the largest employee-owned companies in America. In 1988, the retail chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy which resulted in the closing of 170 stores across 11 states and the loss of 1,600 jobs.
According to a source, franchisees were given a 99-year license to use the Otasco name after the chain went out of business. As of 2014, two Otasco stores remain in operation in Oklahoma, in Beaver and in Marlow. Borger, Texas still had a store operating under the Otasco name in 2012. Many, Louisiana has a locally-owned Otasco Associate store still in business as of 2014.
- "Otasco Typical U.S. Success Story", Tulsa Tribune, October 7, 1958.
- "OTASCO Chairman Dies at 79", Tulsa Tribune, May 1, 1970.
- "Herman Sanditen Services Tuesday", Tulsa Tribune, December 13, 1971.
- O'Dell, Larry. "OTASCO". Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and History. Oklahoma State University Library. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
- Pate, Carter; Platt, Harlan (2002). The Phoenix Effect: 9 Revitalizing Strategies No Business Can Do Without. John Wiley and Sons. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-471-06262-2. Retrieved 2012-01-28.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
- "Company News; Chapter 11 Filing By Otasco Inc". New York Times. AP. November 8, 1988. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
- Laval, Kevin (November 8, 1988). "OTASCO Files Bankruptcy Stores Closed, Employees Released". The Oklahoman.
- Brianna Bailey, "Oklahoma Otasco store outlives the parent company: The former statewide brand lives on in just two Oklahoma towns — Marlow and Beaver." The Oklahoman, July 11, 2014, also reprinted here in Bloomberg Businessweek.
- "Member Directory". Beaver County Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "Otasco - Borger". Local.Yahoo.com. Retrieved 2012-01-28.