Millinery Buyer’s Index 1945: Who is Left in 2011?
A palm size book that served it’s first round of duty listed the millinery supply locations and phone numbers for New York City. Luckily Chicago was still part of the supply chain. There are a few pages listing places here too.
In the 20 years before 1945 the majority of supply wholesalers in Chicago started to drift away or went out of business. In the 1920’s Chicago was a toddling town of booze, Capone, ongoing redevelopment after the Chicago Fire of 1871, and MILLINERY, as well as other significant aspects. To look at where the majority of Chicago suppliers held court is an interesting location at 65 E. South Water St. About 50 businesses have that address. There are some on Michigan Av, especially the earlier success story of Gage, and a name that remains today, Dobbs/Knox. Only two were in the Merchandise Mart, and a couple dozen were scattered through the Loop. The number on Wabash palled in comparison to decades earlier.
Trying to Google the names till finding surviving companies only netted one: American Needle and Novelty Company at 2331 N. Washetnaw. The company of the same name in Buffalo Grove, IL has a page of history that sounds like it is one and the same.
“Founded in 1918 as an importer of sewing needles, American Needle has evolved over three generations into a world leader in head wear manufacturing.
Upon its inception as a family-owned business, the company quickly progressed into manufacturing head wear and millinery styles of all types. The factory, located on the North side of Chicago, hired skilled tailors, pattern makers, sewing machine operators and seamstresses. Their passion was for making new hat styles for new markets.
In 1946, the company approached the Chicago Cubs with the idea of selling fans baseball caps like the ones the players wore on the field. The Cubs agreed to the proposal, with the team’s ownership noting, “Who would want to buy the hats that the players are wearing?” The first run of Cubs hats sold out in one day and a second lot sold even faster. Based on these successes, the company would soon begin supplying caps to all Major League teams nationwide and years later, the NFL.
Today, American Needle is a third generation family business that continues to lead the industry with the design and manufacture of products that are admired by head wear connoisseurs around the world. American Needle holds licenses for major sports leagues and entertainment properties, as well as over 30 patents on design and manufacturing innovations.
Throughout the company’s nearly 100-year history, American Needle attributes its success to the company’s allegiance to its core principles of craftsmanship, leadership, individuality and heritage, while continually inventing dynamic new head wear concepts and expressions.”http://shop.americanneedle.com/pages/history
Adapting to a different market seems to have been their strength.
I took a stroll up Wabash from the Palmer House north during the afternoon to celebrate New Year’s Eve. It was raining heavily, so I only lasted till I went into Macy’s. It was still a pleasure to look at the buildings on the east side of the street with the Loop El tracks overhead. Too rainy to try to take a picture, but that is a goal for the future. That and the temptation that overcomes me every so often of how to find a way to reestablish a millinery shop in the Palmer House. They do have information posted that there is space from 300 sq ft and up available.
It’s good to have a goal-for 2011, 2012, 2013 and …
Happy 1st day of 2011!