Local News

'It's a lonesome time:' Garland trying to recover after closing of Brooks Brothers factory

Posted August 27

— One of the casualties of the coronavirus pandemic was a longtime employer in a tiny Sampson County town.

Garland has a population of about 600 people.

Nearly 20 years ago, Brooks Brothers bought a textile factory there and made expensive shirts to sell around the world. But last month, the company closed its doors, putting its 150 employees out of work.

Carol Horne worked at Brooks Brothers' Garland Shirt Company for 30 years. She was furloughed in March, brought back to work for three weeks and then let go.

"I had been here for so long, and then just not having a job," said Horne.

About 150 jobs were history, including the job Katie Herring held for 34 years.

"It was very hurtful and very painful. Why? Because we had been here all these years, and it was like all of a sudden it was gone," said Herring.

Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama have worn shirts made in the Garland factory.

The company switched to making masks at the start of the pandemic, but it wasn't enough to fend off bankruptcy.

So, Brooks Brothers shut down its last three U.S. factories.

"It's a lonesome time. I'm sure everybody else feels the same way because we came here for so many years," said Herring.

The building might not sit dormant. A manufacturer of personal protection equipment, Health Supply US, wants to buy the plant and put the 150 employees back to work. That sale is still in negotiations.

In a written statement, Health Supply US said the company has already signed a purchase and sale agreement. But, Brooks Brothers has extended the deadline for bids until September.