Farr’s storied history began in 1916 in Coquille as a transfer and warehousing company between the Coquille River docks and Southern Pacific Railways which had just come to Coos County that year. In 1926 they expanded to Marshfield, Oregon (later renamed Coos Bay) at 880 South First Street, the same address where the Coos Bay Farr’s location remains to this day. In 1929 the original waterfront store in Coquille moved to its current location at 220 North Central Blvd. In 1934, co-owners Farr and Elwood joined Northern Wholesale Hardware and changed the name to Farr’s Hometown Hardware. Farr’s expanded to handle a fleet of shipping trucks, along with sales of brick, lime, cement, feed and seed supplies, farm hardware and farm machinery.
Chester Farr and his wife Iva became sole owners in 1941 when Cecil Elwood and his wife died in a car accident; they continued to run the business with sons Len and Don until Chester’s 1954 retirement.
Farr’s joined the union that year. In 1970, the name was again updated to its current incarnation: Farr’s True Value Hardware.
Over the years, many Farr children have worked for the two stores. In 1975, the store incorporated with 11 family stockholders. Since that time, both Farr’s locations have continued to grow and change with the times, from a 1979 Coos Bay building expansion to True Value DTV plan remodels to both stores in 2010 and 2013, respectively. In 2012, Chris Liga, the first non-family member since Elwood, bought into the business. Currently the store is owned by Jay Farr (3rd gen), Jim Farr (4th gen) and Chris Liga (honorary 4th gen), with several other Farr family members still among management and employee ranks today.
One thing hasn’t changed over 5 generations of Farr’s: they’ve remained proudly union since 1954, which helps provide key services and peace of mind for employees. Employee Marie Erm says, “I’ve worked at Farr’s and been a 555 member since 1995. The biggest benefit to me has been the insurance. My husband is self-employed and having coverage for him and our three children has made a huge difference in my life, knowing the union is there to protect those benefits as well as vacation and pension issues takes a lot of stress out of daily life.”
Kandy, another Farr’s employee, agrees. “It is nice to have a job that has benefits including a retirement package. Union insurance and retirement are great things. I have seen a lot of changes in the last 16 years from the union, none of which I can say have been negative.”
Congratulations to Farr’s True Value on this union milestone, and here’s to another 60+ years!