(4) 415 Harriet St. – Thelma Goodman’s Fashion Center

Ypsilanti Historical Society

Ypsilanti Historical Society

During the years of Jim Crow, Ypsilanti’s African American community developed their own institutions, social organizations and businesses. Thelma Goodman created a store in Ypsilanti that allowed African Americans to shop and try clothes on freely during a time of segregation. She began this venture after deciding she did not want to work in a factory as many of the women of the time had to do. A friend put her in touch with a millinery in town and she began buying hats and selling them to people in Willow Village without her husband’s knowledge. Her business took off and soon she opened up shop in the basement of her home. Eventually the home could not contain her expanding business and she decided open a store. Thelma Goodman’s Shopping Center consisted of an office, serving room, fitting room, very large floor space, two large show windows, a beauty salon, and a four room apartment. She employed dressmakers, corsetieres, and beauticians. It sold all clothing items except shoes, which could be ordered.

Along with the shopping center, Thelma Goodman was instrumental in de-segregating the Ypsilanti Girl Scouts in 1950.

Vertical Files, General Subjects: Ypsilanti Historical Society.

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