In 1973, Eleanor Chown was given her husband Frank’s blessing to start the Chown Showcase. She sought out the nest furniture and home décor from all over the world to bring home to Portland and it wasn’t long before she surpassed expectation and pioneered a legacy of her own. Her vision brought a wealth of new opportunities for future generations to build upon and is synonymous with the reputation of Chown today.
With David Chown, CFO Chown Hardware. What was special about your mother, Eleanor Chown?
Eleanor had a great, natural sense of design. She could coach people into a design that worked for them. That is a real gift.
She also really cared about people: coworkers, employees, vendors and customers. She built fantastic relationships with everyone she worked with and built upon that trust. Those are some of the core values of Chown Hardware. We aren’t here to “sell stuff.” We are here to help people, to make them feel valuable, and to offer them products and a service that they love.
Do you remember any important advice she gave you?
Her motherly advice will always stick with me. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.” “Never burn a bridge to someone, you might need it later.” “Your word is your bond.” She really lived her advice. I can’t remember a cross word. Her eyes said it all. When she was happy, they twinkled.
My goal is to live like she did. Stuff perishes and wears out, but relationships and reputations last forever.
How do you feel your business today builds on her legacy?
Chown Hardware is 139 years old. Our legacy is that we build for the long haul. Good relationships with great people are our foundation. I hope my generation can continue to pass on her timeless values of respect, honesty, hard work and fun.
As a business, we will continue all that she started. The reputation she maintained continues and will lead us into even bigger things: great new products, new showrooms, and most of all, new relationships.