Sun 12:00PM to 6:00PM
Local (704) 861-9100
Toll Free 1 (800) 627-9567
Mary Jo’s Cloth Store’s namesake, Mary Jo Cloninger, worked hard to run her father’s grocery store after dropping out of high school, but her real dream was to start a cloth shop. She appealed to her father’s business sense and asked him if she could sell the grocery store and rent out the 9-by-12-foot room in the back of the barber shop he owned to open a cloth store. He said “well sure, if you can find a buyer, you go ahead and sell it.”
She promptly told him that she had already sold the store.
Her father co-signed a $500 bank loan and she opened Mary Jo’s Cloth Store on her 19th birthday with a single piece of muslin and a box of cloth remnants as inventory. The store grew and quickly encompassed the barber shop and surrounding stores; Mary Jo began her journey to becoming known as the “South’s Fabric Queen.”
At 21 Mary Jo took her first trip to gather inventory in New York City’s fabric district. At first suppliers refused to acknowledge a woman, especially a Southern woman, but despite their rude comments and the blisters on her feet, Mary Jo still managed to gather enough contacts during that trip to get her business moving.
As business progressed, Mary Jo’s Cloth Store relocated to a site at the corner of Trade Street and Gaston Avenue, and quickly encompassed the buildings next door. However, on December 18, 1981 this location was destroyed by fire, resulting in another move to a vacant Ben Franklin Store located outside of Dallas.
Mary Jo’s Cloth Store reopened at its Windsor Center location on February 17, 1982 with an inventory of goods salvaged by Mary Jo and her employees. The store at Windsor Center was 22,000 square feet, and by the spring of 1986 Mary Jo’s Cloth Store had outgrown the facility. In August of 1986 the company moved to its current 40,000 square foot space in the Gaston Mall.
Mary Jo’s Cloth Store grew from humble beginnings to the multi-million dollar fabric empire it is today. Because of the varied selection of goods, at the best possible prices and the assistance of a very knowledgeable staff, the store’s reputation has grown, servicing customers from all over the world!
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