MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa -- This week Thompson’s True Value Hardware reopened on Center Street in Marshalltown.
The store had spent the past nine months in a temporary location in the Marshalltown Mall.
On July 19, the store was struck by an EF-3 tornado. Store owner Dave Thompson said it sucked both air conditioning units the size of a car off the top of the building. One unit was never found.
But the business was already reeling before the tornado struck.
“We had a huge wet heavy snowfall on April 10, 2018. The snow slid down the side of our roof,” said Thompson. “When the roof trusses broke, it was like a gun shot going off in the store. You literally felt the reverberation going through your body.”
Thompson was in the building when the roof truss snapped. He called family members first and began removing expensive products from the store into the parking lot.
Next door, the pastor of the Presbyterian Church came over to find out what was going on. Soon, he returned to offer his church as a place to shelter the store’s products for immediate protection. Then a Marshalltown police officer came by to ask what was going on, and a little while later, two off-duty officers came by to assist in moving things around.
A contractor came by to try to shore up a wall which was in danger of collapsing. They needed some heavy concrete weights to stabilize the roof. A call to a local company and the weights were picked up and later returned at no charge.
Then came July 19.
“Then on July 19th, the tornado came along and put us from the frying pan into the fire,” said Thompson. “We got into our pickup truck and drove off. As we were exiting the parking lot, it was moving the pickup truck around quite violently.”
That spelled the end for Thompson’s True Value in that location. They soon opened in a new location in the Marshalltown Mall. Plans had been in the works to build a new store at a lot across from their old location.
The original hardware store was founded in 1860 in Marshalltown. The founders hired a young man named Dave Lennox to work for them.
A few years ago, the giant Menards came to town. That store has not phased Thompson. In fact, he has been competing with Menards his whole life.
Thompson is a native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, which is the home base of Menards. “My brother went to school with John Menard,” said Thompson. “He’s the richest person in Wisconsin.”
Thompson is thankful for all the customers who stuck with him.
“We didn’t ask for a lot of help, and it just, it just showed up. It's been very humbling,” said Thompson.