Kohl Wholesale, previously known as N. Kohl Grocer Co., was founded in 1873 by Nikolaus Kohl. Nikolaus Kohl was born in Germany in 1836 and immigrated to the United States in 1857. He came to Quincy, Illinois and began employment in the wholesale grocery business.

In 1873, being Industrious and energetic, he bought shares in the firm where he was employed and Austin & Kohl Wholesale Grocers was founded. In 1896. Austin retired. With his four sons, Nikolaus continued the business as N. Kohl Grocer Co., Importers, Wholesale Grocers and Coffee Roasters.

The family-owned business became one of the largest coffee roasters in the areas as well as one of the best stocked wholesale grocery establishments in the Midwest. Over time the company went through many changes to facilitate the needs of their customers.