Fabric store

Landmark Fabric Store Closes in Gaston County | Economic news

Building a legacy

You can’t tell the story of the end of the Mary Jo era without paying homage to its beginning.

Mary Jo Cloninger was 19 and married in 1951 when she took out a $ 500 loan and rented the back of her father’s hair salon in Dallas, North Carolina, to open a clothing store. (The bank asked a man to co-sign the loan, and his father agreed.)

As the business grew, it needed more space, moving the store to larger and larger buildings. She developed relationships with textile manufacturers and was able to stock fabrics that customers could not find anywhere else. People began to come from all over North Carolina and states like Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia. shopping for their sewing projects.

In 1981, a fire destroyed his store. All the fabric and tables were taken outside, and she sold the rolls of fabric right out of the parking lot.

Thomas Cloninger and his wife, Betty, were running a restaurant in Kure Beach when the fire broke out and immediately decided they had to return to Gaston County to help Mary Jo. Cloninger’s sister, Paula Houser, also worked alongside her mother from youth to adulthood.

In 1986, Mary Jo Cloninger went into business with three investors and purchased Gaston Mall on Cox Road, making her fabric store the flagship store.