Garan supervisors 1990: front row: Judy Beshears, Laura Beshears, Wanda Painter, Sue Spraggs, Lenora Puckett, Paula Hayden, Irene Lomax, Phyllis Campbell, Jan Rohrer, and Sherry O'Steen, back row: Cindy Elkins, Sheila Bugg, Ricky Hagan and Jerry Bone. No
Garment manufacturing was a job creator in the last half of the twentieth century in Clinton Kentucky. Hundreds of families benefited from steady jobs. Women became managers and floor supervisors.
Garan was a well known and well respected brand of children's clothing for over forty years. Matching outfits dubbed "Garanimals" by the manufacturer helped harried parents quickly match shirts to shorts to pants.
In addition to children's clothes, Garan owned and marketed the Bobbie Brooks clothing line. Cutting, assembling and sewing Bobbie Brooks knit shirts happened at the Garan facility in Clinton Kentucky. At one time, the 235 workers at Garan produced over 5500 dozen shirts a week. Many locals spent their whole working lives at Garan where employment numbers reached a peak of 350 drawn from Hickman, Graves, Carlisle and Fulton Counties. The Clinton facility was the smallest of the Garan factories, but it was one of the most productive.
Garan was the successor to another clothing manufacturer Berlin & Sons founded by Irving and Leonard Berlin leased a factory building from Clinton Development Foundation. Clinton Garment Factory's payroll was reported in the Hickman County Gazette on February 14, 1957 was projected to be one million dollars. The Gazette reported in August 1957 that a government contract would keep the factory open and most of its employees working. At right, a photo of the Clinton Garment Factory in 1957.
The factory closed but efforts began immediately to find a successor company.
Garan opened its Moss Drive facility in 1961. For over forty years, the factory produced six million garments a year according to Virginia Jewell writing in the Gazette. The factory was a source of local pride and a boost to the economy. When it folded in 2001, the building was donated to the Hickman County Development Corporation.
Garan's building is now a stove factory - Peerless Premiere that employs around 100 locally.
The blow to Clinton, which at the time of Garan, had 2000 residents has yet healed. Clinton now has barely 1200 residents. Hickman County is the second smallest in Kentucky. Only Robertson County has fewer residents.
On Saturday, April 22nd, the Hickman County Historical & Genealogical Society will honor Garan employees at a reception from 2 - 4. All former employees and their family members are invited to attend.
The Historical Society will have a map of Garan, showing work stations. It is hoped that those attending will be able to find their spots and rekindle their memories of a time of full employment and pride in work well done.