The company was founded by Philip Rounick and Emma Weiner opened their first store under the name JOY Hosiery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1932. JOY Hosiery initially sold reasonably priced hosiery, lingerie, and foundations in a wide variety of styles. In 1939, it added nylon stockings to its inventory when those became available.
The company expanded in the Philadelphia area in the 1950s. Company Co-Founder Philip Rounick's son, Marvin Rounick, became more involved in the management of the company joining in 1961. Co-Founder Aaron Weiner's son, Warren Weiner, followed suit in 1965. During this time, the company observed the new phenomenon of suburban growth and construction of shopping malls. They responded by opening stores in several locations making them larger and offering more merchandise.
In the 1970's, Marvin Rounick and Warren Weiner closed most of the neighborhood stores and focused on opening larger stores in shopping malls. The chain was also renamed Deb Shops and re-focused on women's and girls' clothing.
The company was listed on the NASDQAQ Exchange under the ticker symbol DEBS. However, it was removed from the exchange after being acquired in 2007 by the investment firm of Lee Equity Partners for $395 million, or $27.25 per share.