Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Arthur Little, December 14, 1979. Interview H-0132. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Little change in the glove-making industry over time

Little has observed very little change in the glove-making industry over the course of his career. The gloves are made basically they same way, they are sold the same way, and the same relatively young, mostly female workforce produces them. One change Little has observed, and welcomed, is a rededication of members of his community to responsible child-rearing.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Arthur Little, December 14, 1979. Interview H-0132. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACQUELYN HALL:
What kind of changes have you seen in the industry over the years you've been involved in it?
ARTHUR LITTLE:
We have different ways to make a lot of the things that goes into the glove, but as far as the glove making itself, it's the same thing. And they're sold more or less the same way. Now we sell through jobbers, mostly. We have salesmen in different parts of the country. They may sell different lines. We don't have any that sell just gloves for us and nothing else, but they sell other lines. And most of our gloves eventually wind up in industry. We have some competitors that's close by that sell direct to industry and don't go through jobbers. In other words, the two main ways to sell gloves is through salesmen, and then another, of course, is to sell direct to industry. They'll hunt you up. The industry, they know about you, they'll hunt you up. But it's been our policy to have a good, strong sales force that sells to jobbers that looks after the industry. In other words, we don't sell to both; we just sell to jobbers. Unless it's in a territory where we do not have any sales representation; then we'll sell direct to industry.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Are the jobbers usually in the North?
ARTHUR LITTLE:
They're all over the country, from Texas on through the West Coast, on around. We sell quite a few gloves in Florida. But you take, say, from the Mississippi delta on around west, then on around here. We don't sell many gloves in Virginia. There's not too much industry in Virginia. And we sell quite a few gloves in Florida, but no big amount. It's in the Southwest, Northwest, and the central North and across the East. A lot of gloves are sold in New York, Boston, and through there. New Jersey. A lot in Chicago. Chicago's a great market. We've got one customer that… I haven't looked at the latest figures, but we sell them probably over two million dollars' worth of gloves a year.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Just to one customer.
ARTHUR LITTLE:
He's a big jobber. He makes some gloves himself, leather gloves, .
JACQUELYN HALL:
What about changes in workers' attitudes or people's pride in their work, that kind of thing? Has there been much change?
ARTHUR LITTLE:
It had deteriorated after a while, say seven or eight years ago, but people are beginning to come back now. I'll tell you, the family life, I notice. Say, twenty-eight years ago up until, say, about ten to seven years ago, discipline in the home was not as good as it is today. And I've known schoolteachers that say so, too. Parents are beginning to be more concerned about how they raise their children, and trying to compare them with the way they were raised. They just figure they weren't raised right, and let do any way in the world. There's a difference. And, of course, we never want our young people to smoke, but I don't think we have so many young people smoking, comparatively speaking, as we did ten years ago. We have a lot of young parents who don't smoke.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I notice you have mostly pretty young boys or young men that do the turning. Has that always been the case?
ARTHUR LITTLE:
That's always been the case. In other words, the glove industry is thought of as a young people's industry, really.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In comparison to …
ARTHUR LITTLE:
Well, it's just something that's fast. When you get on the turning point of the glove, you've got to be fast, and the same way with sewing. Of course, these glove operators get to be old, and they say, "Well…" But they'd learned it years ago. An old person, on an average, can never learn to sew gloves and get up to fast speed.
JACQUELYN HALL:
There were quite a few older people out there sewing, though.
ARTHUR LITTLE:
Yes, they've been sewing gloves for years and years.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Have they slowed down?
ARTHUR LITTLE:
Some of them have, but they stay up pretty good, because they've been at it so long.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So it's always been …
ARTHUR LITTLE:
It's always been considered a young people's industry. But we have people that's in it young and grow on up with it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
There are not very many men working on the floor, it didn't seem like. What percentage …
ARTHUR LITTLE:
No, as a matter of fact, don't take too much male labor in a glove plant. It's mostly a female industry, sewers.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Have you had any men sewers?
ARTHUR LITTLE:
Oh, no.