The influence of textile mills in the early part of the 1900’s was far reaching, often including their own pharmacies, movie theaters, restaurants, and even houses of worship. Long before the mega-malls and strip mall stores, many rural textile mills had their own department stores which served the needs of mill workers, their families, and other members of the community.
An early headline in the Forest City Courier of Rutherford County in western North Carolina read "The Cliffside Mills Store is Largest--Rutherford County’s Largest Department Store, with a Top Quality Stock At Rock Bottom Prices." The article goes on to read "The store is the largest and finest department store in the entire county, carrying only the best in all lines of merchandise and catering to the whole family and the home and making an outstanding specialty of rock bottom prices."
Rural areas like Rutherford County experienced limited means of transportation, often consisting of horse and wagon, or a rare few early automobiles. This kept travel to a minimum and driving to a neighboring county to shop for goods was unheard of. The success of the small towns surrounding the mills grew with the success of the mill itself. What was only a small crossroads some 25 years earlier had sprung into rapidly growing towns with many amenities only dreamed of a few short years before.
Just as many of these towns flourished with the success of textiles, in more recent years they have faded into memories due to the closing of so many textile companies throughout the southern states. All that remains is a whisper from the past--empty buildings casting shadows over lonely streets. While the number of textile mills remains drastically less than the number 25 years ago, STI is one of the few companies that has continued to grow. Having a yarn supply chain within the borders of the continental United States, STI has strategically placed itself in a position to experience continued growth while offering a product truly made in America. It is often said "To forget our history, we are doomed to repeat it." We must learn from our mistakes of the past, and move forward with new knowledge.