There was a lot of work to do when a shipment of finished hosiery arrived from the Home Earners. With over 30,000 Home Earners producing hosiery for the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company, it didn’t take long to accumulate a receipt such as this, which I estimate happened several times per week.
I am not sure how much hosiery is here. Each package would have been packed to a different density and size, and there are no doubt thousands of pairs of hosiery in this photo ranging from heavy outdoor winter socks to light childrens socks.
Upon arrival, each package was unpacked, matched to the Home Earner, and checked for quality. Assuming everything looked good, the hosiery was sorted and added to inventory, and then the Home Earner was sent a check as well as a quantity of yarn equal to the weight of the incoming order. This would give the worker enough yarn to proceed with the next batch. If any hosiery did not pass quality inspection, it was discarded and the Home Earner was sent a note explaining the reason along with the needed corrections.
It was pretty straightforward business model, and very successful so long as the company could maintain a credit line to issue checks to the Home Earners, while holding the hosiery in their warehouses for eventual sale during the fall and (mostly) Christmas seasons. Since imports did not yet exist, there was always a good market for socks to department stores like Sears, Wards, Macy’s and so on.
If you could zoom in to this photo, you might notice that the stack of packages actually extends all the way back into the loading dock. Many of the packages were sent in the same boxes that contained the replacement hosiery, so you can see many of the packages labeled either The Original Home Knitter, or AllWear Worsted Wool. There is a man standing just in front of the stack, unpacking one of the packages. Next to him, up on the counter, is a large stack of socks. I suspect the woman seated with her back to the camera as well as the woman with the index card file are busy going through their records, matching the Home Earner to the quantity and type of shipment received.
It is interesting to note that every single package is bound in twine. Nylon and Acrylic would not have been invented until 1935 and 1944 respectively, so the common packing tapes we use today would not have been available.