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Life Before Home Depot?0 / CC BY-SA 2.0

Was there actually life before Home Depot and  Lowe’s?  I didn’t think so, but apparently there was, at least in Las Vegas, where Edward Von Tobel, Jr. pioneered the world’s first indoor lumber yard in the 1950s.  He passed away on January 5, 2010  at the age of 96.

Von Tobel, Jr. was the son of Edward Von Tobel, Sr. who moved to Las Vegas in 1905 and started Von Tobel Lumber with his brothers Jacob and George.  The young Von Trobel worked in the family business as  a boy and after college, leaving only for a brief time in the 1940s to serve in the Army.  When he returned from the military, “he helped to make Von Tobel Lumber a worldwide model of lumberyards and home improvement centers,”  according to the obituary in the  Las Vegas Review-Journal.  Von Tobel’s niece,  Julie Roach, recalled that people from all over the world came to visit the store. 

The Review-Journal reports that the family sold the business in the 1980s to a national chain which later went out of business. The senior Von Tobel died in 1987, and the junior Von Tobel was the last surviving of his four siblings. 

An internet search for further history on the family and its early indoor lumber yard revealed a Von Tobel Lumber and Hardware alive and well with four stores operating in Indiana.  The corporate history says the company was founded in 1965 by Paul Von Tobel.  Is this a complete coincidence?  A long lost cousin?  A family fued?  Anybody out there have the story?

by Lisa Oram

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