Shown above are workers from the Kelley-How-Thompson Co. at Duluth’s Winter Frolic, circa 1926-1928. The tool and hardware wholesale business was headquartered at 231-237 S. Fifth Ave. W. — which would put it roughly where I-35 intersects the avenue between the DECC and Duluth Depot today. It produced a variety of hardware products, including a line marked with the trade name Hickory.
Shown below is a 75-year-old calendar issued by the company, with a photo of its warehouse.
And below are a few sexy ax heads.
According to a company history compiled by the Archives and Special Collections staff at the Kathryn A. Martin Library:
In 1873 R. A. Costello opened a tin shop on North First Avenue East. The tin shop burned and the business moved to Superior Street. Costello sold the business to his brother, J. J. Costello, but reentered the firm in 1887 and operated it as the J. J. and R. A. Costello hardware store for the next seven years.
The Costellos bowed out in 1895 when controlling interest went to Mike H. Kelley and J. F. Killorin, Duluth lumbermen. They changed the name to Kelley Hardware Co.
In 1902 D.W. How joined the company and the store name changed to Kelley-How. It was this organization that set up the Kelly-How-Thomson wholesale hardware company, operating the store as a retail branch. The retail store remained a unit of the wholesale house until 1928, when it was acquired by E. A. Bergeron and renamed Kelley-Duluth Hardware Company.
Marshall-Wells bought out Kelley-How-Thomson in 1955 with Kelley-How-Thomson continuing under its own name as a subsidiary of Marshalls-Wells. In January 1958 Kelley-How-Thomson consolidated with Marshall-Wells, becoming Marshall-Wells-Kelley-How-Thomson. In December 1958 Coast-to-Coast Stores of Minneapolis bought Marshall-Wells-Kelley-How-Thomson Duluth Division.
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