A pioneer Tooele County merchant passed away last week.
George Liddiard, who helped build the forerunner to today’s Liddiard Home Furnishings, passed away July 27 at the age of 91.
Liddiard, born in Nephi, served in World War II and in the Korean War.
After the Korean War, he followed his childhood friend, Al Morris, to Tooele. They both initially worked at Tooele Army Depot.
Convinced that electronics were the future, Liddiard and Morris used their G.I. education benefits to enroll in a school in Salt Lake City. There they learned how to repair radio, phonographs, and televisions, said Francine Liddiard, George’s widow.
“They worked all day at the depot and then went to school at night in Salt Lake City,” she said. “I didn’t see George a lot.”
George, known to friends and family as “Lid,” along with Morris, eventually opened Al and Lid’s Television and Radio Repair in the early 1950s.
At first they operated out of a spare bedroom in Morris’ home in Tooele, according to Francine.
George’s son, Allen, started working along side his dad when Allen was 12 years old.
“My dad wanted to start a business so he could take better care of his family,” Allen said.
George had a vision that the small town of Tooele would grow and the residents would want to buy things like radios, televisions, and record players from a local store, according to Allen.
The home electronics market was in its infancy when George and Al opened their store.
“Televisions were still black and white, and record players were all monophonic; the stereo had not come out yet,” Allen said.
A little over a year after starting at Tooele Army Depot, George took a job as a letter carrier at the Tooele’s U.S. Post Office.
He continued to work on televisions and radios with Morris during evenings while delivering the mail in the day.
After five years with the post office, the repair business grew to the point that the two friends opened a storefront for repair work on East Vine Street. George left the post office to work full-time at the store.
Along with repair work, Al and Lid’s sold phonographs, radios and televisions. In 1960, George bought out Morris’ ownership in Al and Lid’s store and Morris moved to Elko, Nevada.
George’s younger brother, Ray, bought into the business and became George’s partner after Al left. The brothers expanded their store to include furniture, appliances and carpet, and the name changed from Al and Lid’s Television and Radio Repair to Al and Lid’s Furniture and Appliance Center.
Liddiard’s business became one of Tooele City’s first stores to directly compete with Salt Lake City merchants in an effort to keep shoppers and their money in the local community, according to Allen.
Al and Lid’s moved around to several locations on Main Street in Tooele before landing at the former Allen’s Food Town, west of Dairy Delight, in 1966.
“My dad was an ambitious guy,” Allen said. “He worked hard. He left early for the store and came home late, but he was a great father.”
Francine worked with her husband as the bookkeeper for Al and Lid’s.
“George had the gift of gab,” she said. “He loved to talk to customers and they loved him.”
George sold his interest in the business to Ray in 1988 and retired.
The business that grew to support George, Francine and their five children while providing home furnishings to many Tooele homes started with a $20 investment.
“I’ve been told that my dad and Al started out by investing $20 each in repair parts for their business,” Allen said. “They put everything else they made back into the business to help it grow.”