(VIDEO) Pop’s mop shopLarry Henderson demonstrates how he makes mops in the workshop behind his house in greater Decatur, Ga. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt.
This story has been updated.
Larry Henderson raised a family making mops in a workshop behind his house on Amelia Avenue in greater Decatur.
He’s retired now, but still fiddles with the cotton and wires in his spare time. In his prime he could churn out five dozen of them in 30 minutes, though he moves a little slower now. Now the mops are more of his hobby, a reminder of a job that kept him happy, providing for his wife and three kids.
“I’m supposed to going to therapy, but I get my therapy sitting here playing with this,” Henderson said.
He leaned back in the metal chair in his workshop, surrounded by piles of cotton strips and the buzz of giant fans. He showed off his skills, walking over to a metal machine that spooled the cotton around a long stick before he secured it with wire, trimmed the top with scissors and covered it with a plastic bag.
He said that the mops cost $3 to $6 in a store, depending on the size. Henderson also sells brooms that he buys from another distributor, because his buyers want to purchase both products. He said you can get the mops they make in China, but said his products mop the floor, so to speak, with the imported brands.
“Mine are much better,” Henderson said. “They tell you right straight up, that man’s mops is much better than them that comes from China. Cause they got a mop that comes from China that sells for a dollar, but it don’t last no time.”
Henderson said a mop costs him about $1.25 to make and will last a year, two years if you keep it clean. He uses 100 percent cotton that he gets from a mill in Peachtree City, Ga.
In this video, Henderson shows how he makes mops.
Henderson has been honing his craft since the 1960’s when he dropped out of Archer High School in the eighth grade.
“I dropped out of high school back in the early 60’s to get a job, and that was the job that I got, making mops, making nothing but a dollar an hour, back in the early 60’s now,” he said. “I really dropped out of school to do it. Once I dropped out of school to do it, I kept doing it and things went to getting better for me. I went on and start doing other things, and then I got back to the mops.”
Henderson said he trained himself while working at a company called R.S. Goodwin.
“They wouldn’t ever hardly be there,” he said. “They had a guy making mops by the dozens. I used to get over there and watch him do it, and late in the evening I would teach my own self how to make them.”
After pulling cars for a few years, Henderson eventually founded his own business in 1980, Henderson Mopworks. He did that until 2007. He got married along the way, to Mattie, his wife of 46 years, and raised three children: sons Larry, Terris and his daughter Lortasha.
They all grew up to be successful adults. The oldest, Larry, works as a power wheelchair rehab technician. Terris owns a tire shop and Lortasha Morgan runs a daycare. They’re all married and have kids of their own. The oldest has also taken over the business now, but the piles of cotton at Henderson’s feet are evidence that he’s not quite ready to give the job up.
“I love it,” Henderson said. “I guess because the first job I had was making mops, I always had really wanted to make something, through the years I found that making mops was one of them. You don’t hear of too many people making nothing like that.”
In the driveway, Larry had a van full of mops ready to distribute. He said his dad’s workshop was also a place where he learned lessons about life when he was growing up.
“This was my foundation right here as a little boy,” Larry said. “He would talk to me about life sitting right there in that mop shop. That’s where all my morals and my character was built, right there.”
A few years ago, he was out of work and contemplating his future. He came back to the mop shop to work with his father some. It reminded him that the moral of his father’s story: hard work and a good heart can open doors in this world.
“That’s been one of the best things I’ve ever learned from my father,” he said. “It’s taken me through life.”
Readers asked where they could purchase these mops. They aren’t available locally, but have some availability at hardware stores outside the metro region. The mops aren’t labeled.
Lithia Springs Ace Hardware – 7295 Lee Rd, Lithia Springs, GA 30122
Douglasville Ace Hardware – 6530 Church St, Douglasville, GA 30134. The co-owner of this store, Billy Johnson, said he’s proud to carry them. “He does a good job with them,” he said. “We sell a lot of them,, mainly because they’re good quality and good American-made ones.”
Jones Hometown Hardware – 1083 E 3rd St Jackson, GA 30233
Oakdale Ace Hardware – 4359 W Atlanta Rd SE Smyrna, GA 30080
Additionally, if you’d like to buy one from Mr. Henderson or carry his products in your store, you can reach his son at 706 340-4538
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information about the availability of the mops. They are not available in local stores, according to Henderson’s son.