It is a rare opportunity when we have the privilege of showcasing a business here in Salem that is celebrating its centennial anniversary, but even more so for one that has been operating under the same family ownership for even longer--110 years!
We recently talked with Rick Gassner, current owner of Saffron Supply Company, a longtime hardware & plumbing supplies company located at 325 Commercial Street NE. Rick shared with us that the original company began in 1910 by Isaac Saffron, who with his wife Freda Spivak, left Poland and Russia during the large Jewish immigration to America and Canada in the early 1900s. Isaac's son Morris Saffron joined the business in 1946 following his military service in WWII, bringing in his brother-in-law Daniel Gassner (whose family were furriers in Portland) in 1950. Rick, Daniel's son, joined this unique partnership after college in 1971, and Rick's son Aaron came into the operation in 2004, making four generations working in this well-respected business.
In these photos provided by Saffron Supply Company, we see (above) Isaac Saffron on the office phone, Wolf Cohen at far left, 1919; (top right) Rick Gassner and Morris Saffron in front of store, 1996; and (lower right) Aaron Gassner with father Rick Gassner in the aisles in 2010--four generations of family operation.
In a notice published in the Oregon Statesman newspaper in December 1918, Isaac Saffron announced his purchase of interests in the Capital Junk Company at 271 Chemeketa Street.
In October 1920 we find that Isaac was advertising under the name Capital Junk & Bargain House, located at 215 Center Street.
Then, in the September 3, 1921, edition of the same newspaper, Isaac advertised a Closing Out Sale for Capital Bargain House, again at the 215 Center Street address.
On September 20, 1921, Isaac filed a notice with the Marion County clerk that he will conduct business at 225 Center Street under the name of Capital Bargain House, and that a business named Capital Junk Company will be conducted at the same location.
The Saffron family indicates that Isaac was in partnership with Samuel Kline at some point during these years. We were able to corroborate this with another advertisement in the Oregon Statesman of January 25, 1929, advising of their ownership of the Salem Bargain House at 320 N. Commercial Street.
At some point in their history, they dropped the junk side of things to focus more on hardware. Then, with the next generation led by Morris Saffron, the business moved into providing plumbing supplies. According to Morris Saffron in a Statesman Journal interview December 4, 1996, "Businesses who survive know their community and adapt to their needs."
To listen to the full story of this family and business, please check out their October 3 and October 10 podcasts.