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National began in 1952 when, after 6 years of learning the ins and outs of direct mail at a local mail order company, Mr Eddie Smith started his own mail-order business. Selling hosiery. But honestly—it began long before then.

It was 1928. The Great Depression had taken hold. Families were struggling, work was scarce, and children were being displaced. One such child orphaned at the age of 10, along with his three younger siblings, was Eddie Smith. He was one of the “original” orphans housed at the Junior Orphanage of Lexington, a 200+ acre campus that was home to over 250 children, complete with farm and livestock. It is this humble beginning that created a man that was resourceful, intuitive, and savvy. He was connected to the land out of necessity. And connected to the people around him for much the same reason. He weighed strengths and weaknesses. Developed his skills. And saw adversity as opportunity.  

At 17 he left the orphanage. Got a job at the Carolina Theater, in Lexington, NC ushering star-struck movie-goers to their seats. One such frequent movie-goer became the love of his life, Sarah Lanier. A devotee of the silver screen and all the beauty and fashion that went with it. They eventually eloped, lived in a flat above the theater and soon began a family. This led to Eddie’s needing to find a more lucrative job. So he became a taxi driver shuttling, and making friends with all his patrons. While at the post office one day, a young man suggested he work for his dad’s mail-order business. A jack-of-all-trades, Eddie did whatever task needed to be done. With the boom of the economy after WWII, ordering items through the mail was a growing industry and Eddie made it his passion to learn everything he could about how to make it work.  

Then in 1952 Eddie mailed his first flyer, and National was born. He started with hosiery. And developed a personal style of communicating with his customers as if they were family. Then with the help of his wife and her keen eye for fashion, they started offering model coats and loungewear. On frequent trips to New York, Sarah found items that their growing audience adored. National grew at a steady pace. By 1962 National was mailing small catalogs all over the country. 

Today, we mail our catalogs 11 times a year. And Eddie’s daughter Lynda is carrying on her father’s tradition of responding to customers personally. She also carries on her mother’s vision of bringing obtainable fashion into every woman’s home. We offer everything from casual apparel to lingerie, hosiery to loungewear, and everything in between. Our signature product line is called UltraSofts®. A supreme finely twirled knit suited for every aspect of your life. It is the epitome of what we look to provide our customers. Now and in the future.


[ Comfortable. Fashionable. Well made. Guaranteed. ]


Whether you buy from our catalogs, call our ladies in the Call Center located here in our Lexington headquarters, or order online, we look to serve you with unwavering joy. Our products are backed by the 100% Eddie Smith Cheerful Guarantee. Start to finish — each and every one of us at National continues to live out our founding philosophy of "treating each and every customer as if she were a member of our family." 

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