Fort Payne Main Street unveiled promotional window wraps honoring the late Ida Goza as part of a Women in Business campaign as her family proudly observed. Two black and white images appear on storefront windows of the Quinn Building at 102 First Street, one showing the trailblazing female entrepreneur and another displaying a group photos of employees outside of her hosiery mill that was snapped by her son Wayne when he was a boy.
According to Fort Payne Main Street Executive Director Connie Fuller, “Our Common Thread” weaves the history of Fort Payne sock-making, with people from all walks of life who helped establish downtown as the heart of the community, giving it character, personality and a foundation for success. October commemorated National Women's Small Business Month.
Fort Payne Main Street's promotion and design committees, chaired by Mary Reed, CEO of Heritage Wire, helped create the campaign to draw attention to our community's rich heritage and the importance of the downtown business district to Fort Payne. Window wraps featuring honorees, will be placed strategically throughout the downtown area.
While known as a giant in the hosiery industry, Goza was also prominent as a real estate owner and community advocate.
Dan Goza said, “She would bend over backwards to help people. If people came in needing help, she would do all that she could without any fanfare. She wasn’t looking for credit at all. We hear stories from Uncle Wayne and from people in the community.”
“She was community-oriented for sure, and I think Dan and I have caught that bug,” said her grandson Glenn Horton, president of Southern Properties. He created a mini-sock mill at The Quinn, where visitors to downtown Fort Payne can glance inside to see working antique Banner knitting machines taken out of the W.B. Davis building and a seaming machine.
“Fort Payne Main Street originally had another place in mind [for the wrap] but asked me about putting it here. I said nothing would be more fitting than to honor grandmother Ida and have it right here at this little sock mill,” Horton said.
He said the machines inside were in top shape, having previously been stored in the shop of Irby Farmer, a long-time fixer for Ida Goza.
“He had these at his house. I heard my dad and Uncle Wayne had worked hand in hand with Irby. He built some of the best machines, which is why he had such a long relationship with my grandmother. One day he called me and asked if I wanted one of these machines. I went up to his shop, and he had a little shed behind his house, like so many people in Fort Payne did. He had all of these sitting in a room about this size. I had this place in mind. The machines are exactly in the same orientation, everything exactly like he had it. It started running like it did when it was shut down in the 80s,” Horton said.
He hopes curious visitors will peek inside the storefront and take a greater interest in the role hosiery played in Fort Payne’s recent history as the “Sock Capital of the World.”
“I hope it ignites in people the passion that [Goza] had for the sock industry back here in Fort Payne,” Horton said. “I hope people see it and think, ‘Hey this was here.’ It’s our heritage and what built this little town. I think we ought to celebrate it. It’s part of our identity. A lot of the big players are gone, but the people are still here. The big corporations are not as numerous as they once were, but every bit of the people who made it what it was are still right here.”