Member Profile: Harriet Beard, Beard's Gallery and Decorating

Date: May 03, 2016 Last Edit: May 05, 2016

Family-owned company reflects on a century of business.

Member Profile: Harriet Beard, Beard’s Gallery and Decorating

This
year marks an important milestone for Beard’s Gallery and Decorating in
Kirksville: 100 years in business.

The
business was opened in April 1916 by the grandfather of Walt Beard, Harriet’s
husband. At the time, the company focused mostly on paint, wallpaper, and glass
sales. Now, Beard’s is a one-stop shop for interior design and home décor
needs, including custom picture framing, wallpaper, paint, window
coverings/treatments, curtains, and drapes. 

“Our
service grows all the time because we don’t just sell a product; we follow
through with it and install it, or do whatever it takes to get the job finished
right,” Harriet says. “And we continue to educate ourselves in the new things
that need to be done, so that’s part of our secret, I think.”

Another
part of their secret to success is that the business is a family affair, from
top to bottom. Following Walt’s service as a B-24 pilot in World War II, he
returned to Missouri with the goal of joining the business and doing what he
could for the community. Harriet, a recent graduate from Iowa State with a
degree in textiles and clothing, met him on a blind date and says it was a good
fit from the beginning.

“We
are so fortunate because our four children all independently decided that they
would like to be a part of the business, too,” she says.

Harriet
and Walt didn’t try to influence the decision, but the fact that their kids
began helping out at the business when they were younger helped plant a seed.
Everyone went to school to get education in the areas they were interested
in—such as interior design, commercial art, and industrial arts—and the
business has grown accordingly.

 The
whole family also puts a priority on being involved in the community, starting
with Walt’s grandfather’s service on the city council. Everyone has been
“president of this, that, and the other,” Harriet says, helping with things
like water supply, building highways, and other state efforts, including the
NFIB/Missouri Leadership Council. In fact, Harriet has been so active in
transportation efforts in the state that a portion of Highway 63 was renamed
“Harriet Beard Highway.” 

“I
think to get involved where you are is an important thing, to put your roots
down, and get going with what needs to be done where you are,” she says.

While
there are always challenges in business—such as new, bigger competitors coming
onto the scene, which Harriet says is the most frustrating part of being a
business owner—Harriet has learned the importance of a positive attitude.

 “I’m
an optimist from the word ‘go,’ and I guess I’ve just continued to be an
optimist so that things we’ve been involved in as a family or that the business
has been involved in, we keep a positive outlook,” she says. “Unfortunately,
there are too many people in the world that are so negative, so it’s kind of
good to have the positive voice coming through.”

It
helps to have family on your side, as well. When asked what kind of advice
she’d give small business owners on how to attain 100 years of longevity,
Harriet credits her family’s involvement.

“Encourage
your family to be involved or at least understand what’s going on in the
business so when they mature, they’ll either find it a challenge or not, but
at least you will have given them an opportunity,” she says.

She
adds with a laugh, “I have to keep coming to work so I can see my family!”

Harriet
also credits NFIB for being one of the reasons they’re still around: “[After
joining NFIB] we were encouraged all the time about how important it was to
understand what was going on with the government rather than just read about it
in the paper.”

Subscribe For Free News And Tips

Enter your email to get FREE small business insights. Learn more

Get to know NFIB

NFIB is a member-driven organization advocating on behalf of small and independent businesses nationwide.

Learn More

Or call us today
1-800-634-2669

© 2001 - 2022 National Federation of Independent Business. All Rights Reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy