J.J. Hat Center – A shop experience of a bygone era.
It is no secret that I love hats. Unfortunately, they don’t always love me back, but that is another story. They are just as practical as they are an accessory that adds immensely to your personal style. The problem is that no one sells hats anymore these days. Sure there are plenty of street vendors cashing in on the latest straw fedora craze, but like glow lights at the circus those are meant to last until you reach the corner of the next block. You can also find some in stores that are stocking them because fedoras and driving caps are “in” again, but try asking one of the kids on the floor if they can help you find your size or a specific brand and they just stare back (“I just work here…”).
That’s why I pray everyday that shops like J.J. Hat Center will never disappear because it would mean that hats, as they were meant to be, are extinct. These gentlemen know their hats and can tell your size just by glancing at you. They are welcoming and extremely helpful. It is one of those places you wouldn’t mind hanging out in to shoot the breeze with the guys – just like an old school barber’s shop. The stories and the anecdotes keep you smiling as they grab hats seemingly at random for you to try, but all of them fitting you well and making you look and feel great. I walked out yesterday with this super-lightweight linen driving cap by Doria (Borsalino’s casual line). The color works with anything you have on and keeps the sun off without overheating your noggin.
If you are every near the Empire State Building in New York walk a couple of blocks south on Fifth Avenue and you will see a large yellow Borsalino sign nestled between tchotchke dealers and fast food joints. Open the door and step into a shop experience of a bygone era when the staff was courteous, friendly, helpful and actually knew what the heck they were talking about.