NEW YORK — Harry Jenkins, former gray goods editor of DNR, WWD’s sister publication, died March 5 of a stroke at his home in Bear, Del. He was 88.
Jenkins’ byline appeared in DNR and sometimes other Fairchild publications for nearly 56 years. He joined the company as a textile reporter in 1945, after serving as a paratrooper in World War II in North Africa. He retired in 1979 but continued to write his gray goods column at least once a week until April 30, 2001.
Textile gray goods, unfinished fabrics straight from the loom, were a major commodity for many years, and were listed in the national index along with cotton and grain prices as an indicator of the country’s financial health. Jenkins’ gray goods column in DNR was the bible for buyers for apparel and home furnishings companies, as well as speculators. Futures in gray goods were traded widely for many years.
In his early DNR days, the gray goods industry was mostly located on New York’s Worth Street, and Jenkins had a regular routine of going from office to office checking on sales and prices.
In fact, Jenkins was known in the industry as “Mr. Gray Goods.” A common saying whenever there was price bargaining between mills was, “If you don’t like my price, buy it from Jenkins.”
He was so closely associated with the gray goods market that even Egyptian, European and Chinese mills (the latter of which became the nemesis of the U.S. industry that he covered) consulted with him.
Jenkins, who was born in London and came to the U.S. when he was eight, was the son of a vaudeville performer. His father, Nathan, was a headliner in major theaters in London. Harry himself had a brief show-business career before his army service, singing on a New York radio station and having a few small parts in silent movies, which were then filmed in Brooklyn, once a major movie-producing center.
Services will be held Tuesday at Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear at 2:30 p.m.
He is survived by three sons, Arthur of Collingswood, N.J., Richard of Atlanta and Robert of Bear; six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
This story first appeared in the March 10, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.