Amazon Knitting Company
The Amazon Knitting Company was built in 1895. The five-story building held spinning, winding, and knitting machines. It provided employment mainly for women, at a time when women were just starting to work outside the home. It was one of the first factories to open in Muskegon at the end of the lumbering era, as the city transitioned to become an industrial powerhouse.
Backstory and Context
The basement of the building held a dining room and machine repair shop. The second floor held the company offices and carding department. The rest of the floors would be spinning, knitting, and winding machines. The women who were hired were not paid for the first week that it took them to learn to use the knitting machines. Once their training was complete, they were paid by the piece. Amazon produced mittens, gloves, hosiery, and shirts, but its staple item was full-bodied cotton underwear. Amazon sold to stores like Sears, Woolworth's, and Kresge, which in turn sold the clothing under their own store brand name.
The factory provided steady
employment for 600-1000 workers during its run. It finally closed in 1943, partly
because of competition from the new automobile factories which could pay workers more and partly because the type of garments Amazon was known for were going out of style. The building was used as storage for various businesses in the area and eventually fell into disrepair. Around 2001, it was renovated into residential apartments with commercial space on the ground level.