Stan Blowes came from a career in the travel industry working for the Grand Trunk and Canadian National railways and Trans-Canada Airlines. Stan grew up in Mitchell, a small town about 15 minutes outside of Stratford, and eventually settled his family in Stratford. In 1949, he bought Kenner's Book Store, which he continued to sell books at while adding gifts, cards, and office supplies. Through his connections and previous knowledge, Stan then added a Travel component to his fleet of businesses, and thus began the generations of Blowes businesses in downtown Stratford. Stan continued to run both businesses for multiple years, until his two sons (Bob and Sam) took over one of the businesses each. Stan was a well-known character throughout Stratford, and contributed a lot to the city in every way he could, a trait that he passed along to both his son and grandson, the two future owners of the business he created.
Bob Blowes partnered with his father Stan Blowes in 1953, just a few years after the initial opening, where Bob took over the operation of the Book and Gift Shop portion of the businesses. It was around this time that the businesses split into two separate divisions, with one focusing solely on retail and the other focusing on the travel agency, but they both continued to operate under the Blowes name. Stan retired in the late 1960's which is when Bob bought the business off of his father and continued to run it until his retirement in 1991. It was within the years under Bob's leadership that the business saw its success, a lot of this being accredited to Bob's simple love of people and the community of Stratford. Bob did it all, not only was he the owner of a successful downtown business, but he was a philanthropist who loved to give and put everyone's needs in front of his own. Bob was an inspiration to everyone he met, he could put a smile on your face even if you had a terrible day prior and he was a man everyone was lucky to know.
Brian Blowes is the current owner of Blowes Cards & Gifts and Blowes Stationery & Office Supplies, after taking it over at the young age of 25 from his father Bob in 1991. Before taking over the business himself, Brian had been working at the store-full time for a year and was so excited to learn about what being the owner truly meant. Brian had big plans to computerize many functions within the store when he came into ownership in 1991, and he did. Brian is passionate about his community, his business and his employees, leading the business to much success under his leadership. Since 1991, Brian has opened a Hallmark store in the Stratford mall, successfully implemented the Hallmark Gold Crown partnership with his business, grown the office supply business to include delivery and increased reach, and too many other things to name! When COVID-19 hit, Brian successfully adapted and pivoted as he continued to maintain hope and made sure his business was still providing the best service possible, given the circumstances. A family man, a passionate leader and an inspiration to so many, Brian has shown us what true leadership looks like, encourages us to reach for the stars and is proof that you can do anything you set your mind to.