Wat­son Gloves turns 100

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - Contents -

In April, 1918, John Wat­son and Wayne Stan­ley started Wat­son Gloves, a busi­ness sell­ing hand­sewn gloves to Van­cou­ver’s dock work­ers. The com­pany grew quickly as the log­ging and sawmill in­dus­tries boomed. In 1922, Dinty Moore joined the com­pany start­ing as a mes­sen­ger/stock boy, and af­ter 25 years work­ing his way up he be­came pres­i­dent. Three gen­er­a­tions of Moore fam­ily and 100 years later, Wat­son Gloves has grown from a two-per­son store­front in Van­cou­ver to be­come one of Canada’s largest dis­trib­u­tors of qual­ity gloves. Now sell­ing prod­ucts in­ter­na­tion­ally with over 2,000 styles to choose from, the iconic Wat­son Gloves tag is rec­og­niz­able on gloves used for dozens of ap­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing, of course, gar­den­ing.

Gar­den­ing gloves be­came a dis­tinct cat­e­gory of its own af­ter Wat­son Gloves started dis­tribut­ing Ansell’s Green Thumb in 1968. Rec­og­niz­ing that they were onto some­thing good, Bar­rie Moore, Dinty’s son, de­cided to im­port vinyl coated cot­ton gar­den­ing gloves from China. The mis­sion then be­came: find a great name for them. Mil­dred Moore, Dinty Moore’s wife, came up with the name Rosey Posey for their first Wat­son gar­den­ing-style glove and the com­pany never looked back.

From leather, 100-per-cent cot­ton gloves, or vinyl-coated gloves, the de­sign and ma­te­ri­als that gar­den­ing gloves were con­structed from re­mained mostly the same un­til the late 1990s. At that time a Wat­son em­ployee be­came alerted to the fact that an At­las seam­less-knit glove, orig­i­nally used in the fish­ing in­dus­try, was be­ing sold over the bor­der in Rich­mond, B.C. and some gar­den­ers were rav­ing about how great it was. The Wat­son pur­chaser sourced it and the mar­ket­ing team took over. With the name Botan­i­cally Cor­rect, and a good tag, the sales team soon in­tro­duced it to the gar­den­ing shops and a star was born.

The semi-coated, seam­less, knit glove con­tin­ues to be a best seller to this day. These gloves form to a user’s hands, of­fer pro­tec­tion from wet soil, are wash­able, come in a range of sizes, and are tough and long last­ing. Mira- cle Work­ers, Gar­den Gems and Dirty Deeds, are just some of the styles of seam­less knit gloves that Wat­son Gloves car­ries. They all have their own name that can help cus­tomers iden­tify them and what spe­cific task they will be good for. Do you have a dirty job? Down and Dirty would be an ex­cel­lent choice. Or, Got Dirt? Do you need to prune your roses or yank out black­berry bushes? Game of Thorns was de­signed with these types of jobs in mind.

With a full range of gar­den­ing gloves, all with their own witty names, with dif­fer­ent fea­tures, Wat­son Gloves makes it easy to choose a glove for your spe­cific task. They know that one glove does not fit all, either for pur­pose or siz­ing. Be­sides gloves for dif­fer­ent tasks, there must also be a whole range of sizes for who­ever is go­ing to be work­ing in the gar­den. Whether you are age 3 or 83 there is sure to be a glove for you. They even have gloves for princesses.

The lawn and gar­den­ing mar­ket con­tin­ues to boom and most cer­tainly Wat­son Gloves doesn’t see that de­clin­ing any time soon. A big change in the mar­ket has been the in­crease of peo­ple want­ing to grow their own fruit and/or veg­eta­bles. Not only are in­creas­ing prices a good rea­son to grow your own, con­cerns about harm­ful chem­i­cals used in farm­ing are mak­ing mil­len­ni­als take up gar­den­ing with a whole new

en­thu­si­asm. Con­sumers want to buy lo­cal and they want or­ganic. What bet­ter con­trol could you pos­si­bly have over the veg­gies you eat than if you grow them your­self?

Wat­son Gloves will con­tinue to source new ma­te­ri­als and de­sign for chang­ing trends. What’s next? “We want to be kinder to the earth”, says Michele Moore, Dinty’s grand­daugh­ter who is the com­pany’s num­ber one gar­den glove fan. “I think it’s im­por­tant we source gloves that will biode­grade in land­fills a whole lot faster than they cur­rently do. Cel­e­brat­ing our 100th an­niver­sary this year has made us pause, and think about where we want to go, and what we want to be known for. It’s up to us to make the change, to lead the in­dus­try, to find so­lu­tions for the waste and harm­ful ma­te­ri­als cur­rently be­ing used. We need to be the so­lu­tion.”

An old Wat­son staff photo from the 1936 cat­a­logue.

Wat­son's old build­ing at East 2nd and Main in Van­cou­ver, where they were lo­cated for 89 years.

An old la­bel for Rosey Posey, Wat­son's first gar­den­ing style gloves.

Their gloves are made for heavy duty gar­den­ing.

The Game of Thorns gloves were made to deal with prickly friends like roses or black­ber­ries with­out in­ci­dent.

In the late 1990s, Wat­son came out with Botan­i­cally Cor­rect, a seam­less knit glove that caught on with gar­den­ers. Above cen­tre is a Van­cou­ver Sun ar­ti­cle from 2001 about the gloves.

One glove does not fit all. With a wide range of styles, there are plenty of choices - from Gar­den Gems (left) to Gar­den Princess (right), and be­yond.

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