The World Before Amazon, Wilknit & Boatman

I had coffee with a fellow Greenfielder recently and he mentioned a person who ran a mailorder business selling hunting dog equipment and remarked how this guy was ahead of his time. The company was Boatman’s and for several decades it sold, among many other things, a powerful flashlight, Dynalite, specifically aimed at coon hunters.

My coffee pardner is from Greenfield but simply not old enough to know what was in the Boatman building before Boatman. He wasn’t aware that the building at 215 S. Washington had formerly been a Masonic Temple and later the home of the Wilknit Company, a supplier of socks and hosiery and like Boatman, also did business via the mail.

While in town I decided to drive by what remains of the long-gone Wilknit Company. The heart of the business was the S. Washington St building. It housed the offices plus, in the basement, there was a complete printing shop in which all their catalogs, brochures, and other printed materials were produced.

About a block away, on Mirabeau St, there was a stone block building that was their dye plant. Wilknit bought its inventory from weaving mills in the South and did the dying in Greenfield.

One the dying process was complete the inventory was trucked to Leesburg for storage and distribution. Their Leesburg building housed their mail department where orders were picked, packaged, and mailed to customers.

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