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Vardeman Sneed
02-16-2008, 04:48 PM
This morning I drove from Louisville to Cincinnati to visit Batsakes to have the brim trimmed and a ribbon put on the Stetson Rancher that I planned to convert to a fedora.

Here is the thread on the planned conversion: http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?t=27787

Anyway, upon entering the store, I was greeted by a lady (I did not get her name) who asked if she could help me. I responded that I would like to do two things: 1.) I would like to find out exactly what size hat I wear, and 2.) I would like to have my Rancher's brim trimmed and a ribbon put on it. (So far so good.)

The lady then walked off to attend to another customer. (Not so good.)

A couple minutes later, Gus came up to me and asked me if could help me. I responded as before and showed him a picture of what I was trying to accomplish (see the linked thread above). Gus looked at my Rancher and said "7-7/8, the hat is too big." He pulled a fedora out of a stack (a nice gray Borsalino) and told me to put it on. He said that is the size I need, and asked how it fit. I told him that it was way too tight, from front to back. He looked at me like I didn't know what I was talking about. I gave the hat back to him.

He then addressed the Rancher. He told me that it couldn't be made into a fedora, and that it should be "given away". I told him that I really would like to convert the hat, and that I would like to have the brim trimmed. Next, I received a barrage of reasons why it couldn't be done, mostly that the crown was too tall (he measured it at 6") and that the brim wouldn't look right trimmed from 4" to 2.5".

Maybe its a personality thing, but I really didn't like the tone that I was receiving. I politely asked if the brim could be trimmed. Gus huffed, told the lady to write up a ticket, told her to put down a 24 ribbon, and walked off. After finding out that they wouldn't have the hat done until Wednesday, I decided not to have the hat done.

I did mention that I would like to try on a 7-3/4 hat, and the lady found one that I tried it on. It fit much better than the hat Gus had me try on. It did 'hug' a little uncomfortably from front to back and I was able to slide my fingertips in on the sides. The lady said that sometimes they have to stretch the hats.

As I thought about my somewhat one-way conversation that I just had with Gus, I decided that it was best for me to make a quick exit. Rather than take the interstate back home, I took the long way back. I needed the extra time to calm down before I got home.

Do I plan to go back to Batsakes? No.

With a background in working with customers, I feel that customer service means a lot. Today, I didn't feel that I was important. Not only did Batsakes lose my business today, they lost my future business.

Of the two goals that I went to Cincinnati for, neither one was exactly accomplished. Since no measurements were taken of my head, I really don't know if I'm a 7-3/4, or not. I also don't know if I'm a long oval, or an extra long oval.

Now I don't know if I should proceed with my conversion, or try to sell the hat.

Bud-n-Texas
02-16-2008, 05:04 PM
Finding your hat size is rather simple, 1st measure your head with a cloth measuring tape, then use this chart. as to long oval or extra long oval, it is as simple as, does your hat pinch your forehead and have gaps on the side. If it does, you most likely are.


http://www.diamondbackhats.com/sizechart.jpg

As for your customer service issues, this is the first negative I have heard about Gus.

citRon
02-16-2008, 05:08 PM
Wow that sucks:eusa_doh: . I went to Preslar's Western shop on Fern Valley Road yesterday and got better service than that! I too went in to finally determine once and for all what my hat size was. (having variations of 7 and 7 1/8 and long ovals that fit to differing degrees)
The lady there made a point to put 7's and 7 1/8's both regular and long ovals from several brands on me. She was very helpful, even going into the storeroom to get different hats for me.

Boris K
02-16-2008, 05:15 PM
Sorry to hear about your experience, 60CycleHum. I have been to Batsakes several times and had a much better experience.

Gus did determine my hat size by trying on hats rather than measuring, but we quickly found the correct size.

He has a sense of humor and, with the accompaning heavy accent and limited facial expression, it can be difficult to ascertain his meaning at times. Anyone can have a bad day as well. He is definitely old school with customer service, and doesn't really cater to the hobby crowd.

Again, sorry for your experience. Hopefully you had a relaxing drive on either the north or south bank of the river when heading home.

Bud-n-Texas
02-16-2008, 05:22 PM
One thing, to keep in mind about hat sizes, IT IS NOT SCIENCE. A 7 1/4 in one brand may fit differently than another brand, or even a different model with the same maker. Vintage Dobbs are always smaller on me than a Stetson. There is a reason why Art uses a conformer when building a custom hat. Few of us have the exact size and shaped head.

metropd
02-16-2008, 05:44 PM
Sorry to hear about your experience, 60CycleHum. I have been to Batsakes several times and had a much better experience.

Gus did determine my hat size by trying on hats rather than measuring, but we quickly found the correct size.

He has a sense of humor and, with the accompaning heavy accent and limited facial expression, it can be difficult to ascertain his meaning at times. Anyone can have a bad day as well. He is definitely old school with customer service, and doesn't really cater to the hobby crowd.

Again, sorry for your experience. Hopefully you had a relaxing drive on either the north or south bank of the river when heading home.


Well said. I had a very good experience with Gus and made me one of my favorite hats I ever had. (The one in my avatar) I am sorry that happened and hopefully the hat gets revamped and you work things out.;)

Vardeman Sneed
02-16-2008, 05:54 PM
I can appreciate that people can have 'bad hat days'. On odd occasions, even I do. Just ask my kids. ;)

As an Engineer, it really rubs me the wrong way when someone says that something "can't be done". Sometimes, it cannot. However, finding out why a person wants to do that thing, can often lead to an alternative solution that can be acceptable.

For instance, my Rancher - I know that size 7-7/8 is too big, and that a 7-3/4 would be a better fit. I also know that the crown is very tall. However, with a small shim in the back, the hat fits very well from front to back. Also, without the shim, the existing blocked center dent sits on the top of my head with the brim being a finger above the eyebrows and ears.

If I had a 7-3/4 long oval hat block, I would try to shrink the hat, to bring in the sides. As far as the crown goes, I really cannot go with a shorter crown. If I did, the hat would sit too high on my head, and I would look like a clown.

Yes, the proportion of the crown to the brim might not look exactly right, but those of us with 'melon heads' have to live with compromises. Maybe a 2-3/4" or 3" brim might be in better proportion. That is what I would expect from a 'professional', finding a solution to my needs, not telling me that "it can't be done".

Funny thing, I read in these forums that the FL members, who are not hat professionals, have done 'western to fedora' conversions. So, I know it can be done.

Bob

Fletch
02-16-2008, 06:37 PM
I would guess that Gus, from all I've heard about him, is less a professional than a craftsman. A craftsman's loyalty is to the craft over and above the customer. As a result, he often doesn't express himself. He may say something can't be done when what he really thinks is it shouldn't be done, and he may not choose to get into the whys of it.

John in Covina
02-16-2008, 08:26 PM
Let's not forget that he is in the business of SELLING hats and probably thought his best bet was to try to sell you a new one over trying to make the conversion.

From the many conversions we have seen here in this forum we know that it is posible, Gus may not have done such a conversion and as such, a conversion like this does not make sense to his sensibilities.

It seems to me that Cowboy hat purveyors would be more in line on the brim trimming but less inclined to the ribbon replacement.

I'd say, stick to someone that is more in tune with our forum such as one of the advertisers that does rrennovations and you are more likely to get done what you want, even if you have to ship it out and wait.

besdor
02-16-2008, 10:40 PM
I have to side with Gus on this one. To convert a Stetson Rancher into a fedora is a lot of work. It would be easier to convert a homburg into a fedora as these two hats are both dress weight felts. I dont know how much Gus told you it would cost to convert the hat into a snap brim fedora, but it probably would be better to just buy another hat and keep the Rancher as a second hat.
My grandfather used to do this type of work years ago and gave it up because it never came out 100 percent right . That was in the era when a person bought a hat and it lasted for ten years . Now , everything is disposable.


Steven
www.bencrafthats.com

metropd
02-17-2008, 12:02 AM
I would guess that Gus, from all I've heard about him, is less a professional than a craftsman. A craftsman's loyalty is to the craft over and above the customer. As a result, he often doesn't express himself. He may say something can't be done when what he really thinks is it shouldn't be done, and he may not choose to get into the whys of it.
:eusa_clap :eusa_clap

Aaron Hats
02-17-2008, 08:33 AM
One thing, to keep in mind about hat sizes, IT IS NOT SCIENCE. A 7 1/4 in one brand may fit differently than another brand, or even a different model with the same maker. Vintage Dobbs are always smaller on me than a Stetson. There is a reason why Art uses a conformer when building a custom hat. Few of us have the exact size and shaped head.

That's exactly right. Measuring your head only puts you in the ballpark. Just like with shoes, belts and pants manufacturers sizing will vary. If you want to know your size try on a bunch of hats and don't bother with a tape measure.

Aaron

Lon Goval
02-18-2008, 01:31 PM
I'm finding that some brands seem almost a size off. It could have something to do with me needing a long oval size.

Are Long Ovals a thing of the past as far as "off the rack" hats? Are custom or vintage the only way to get Long Ovals?

Ralph

citRon
02-18-2008, 01:44 PM
long ovals seem readily available in the western world. I've never had a problem finding a long oval when I was cowboy hat shopping.

Fletch
02-18-2008, 01:53 PM
Westerns are more widely recognized as hats to be worn daily. Dress hats nowadays are so dominated by the novelty market, and serious wearers so into custom made, that there is much less demand for good fit.

jpdesign
02-19-2008, 07:50 AM
I don't know why other hatters are so against doing this. It is actually a faily simple process. I guess it comes from working on more western hats then dress hats as I was learning this craft. I will do a canverstion for $80, just like any other renovation. That would include shrinking the crown hieght, cutting brim, resizing, putting in a new sweatband (or reworking the old one if desired), and putting on the desired ribbon.

Jimmy

Rick Blaine
02-19-2008, 08:14 AM
Optimo did a bang-up conversion for me & it came in right at $100 to turn this:http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g222/Greghats/Stetson_25_B4.jpg

To this:http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g222/Greghats/optimo25threequarters.jpg

jimmy the lid
02-19-2008, 08:16 AM
I still can't believe my eyes on that one, Rick. :eusa_clap

Cheers,
JtL

Havana
02-19-2008, 08:52 AM
I'm just an amateur but I believe that just about any quality western hat with enough crown material can be converted into a decent fedora. 6" in the open crown is a bit much but no more than a Akubra Federation. I would say that makes it an excellent candidate for a C-crown. You can't fully trust any salesman no matter what their product is. I am disappointed to hear that their salesmanship was so lacking. You should be able to measure your own head with a sewing tape. Just remember to allow a small bit of room for shrinkage. I think it's always better to have a hat that's slightly too big than too small.

ScionPI2005
02-19-2008, 09:25 AM
Optimo did a bang-up conversion for me & it came in right at $100 to turn this:http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g222/Greghats/Stetson_25_B4.jpg

To this:http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g222/Greghats/optimo25threequarters.jpg

That is a VERY GOOD conversion job!

Aaron Hats
02-19-2008, 09:37 AM
You can't fully trust any salesman no matter what their product is.

Havana, Not to pick on you but I hear this a lot except it's usually stated when a customer asks my opinion and then they say "Of course you'll say it looks good, you just want to sell a hat." That's the equivalent of calling me (usually a stranger to the customer) a liar. That takes "big ones". Hat stores are not big chains with faceless CEO's running them. All the hat stores I know of have the owner on site and care about how their customer looks when they walk out the door. Yes, our job is to sell hats but we want the customer to leave with the hat that looks and fits best. If that doesn't happen chances are the customer won't be back.

Aaron

WEEGEE
02-19-2008, 10:05 AM
I personally had a excellent , interesting and enjoyable time dealing with Gus... an old school and most interesting gentleman.

60CycleHum its unfortunate your experience at Batsakes but it seems to be a difference of opinion and not an egregious vendor faux pas.


That said...Onward & Upward

indycop
02-19-2008, 11:04 AM
Hat stores are not big chains with faceless CEO's running them. All the hat stores I know of have the owner on site and care about how their customer looks when they walk out the door. Yes, our job is to sell hats but we want the customer to leave with the hat that looks and fits best. If that doesn't happen chances are the customer won't be back.

Aaron
I agree, you guys are definitely in a different boat than other types of salesman. It's your company at stake, and I am guessing a good reputation goes a long way. Plus honest salesman get customer loyalty.:)

Justdog
02-19-2008, 08:42 PM
Hi:

Well I made a trip down to my hatter and judging by the phone conversation I was prepared for no nonsense, smile.

After reading the experience that started this thread I was reinforced to be accepting of a different personality.

It appears the hatter I visited was similar to your Gus.

He was pretty matter of fact as he runs a business to sell hats, block hats, repair hats and offer his advice.

I made sure I took a low key approach as he took the time to look at 5 hats and evaluate them for me for free.

He also took a knot out of the liner that was digging into my skull after a few hours of breaking in, for free.

He then went through measuring my head measureing all my hats giving me a bit of history and showing me the back where he blocks and repairs.

I tried on a few hats with no issues.

He showed me his personal Borsalino which was awesome and soooo expensive.

I got pricing on reblocking and looked forward to returning to have the work done.

He informed me that he worked for Biltmore Stetson for many years and had run this hat store for 25 years.

I let him know that millnery was a lost art and that there are a lot of people rediscovering the great hats of the past and need skills like his to keep the lids afloat.

Overall I made a point of respecting him before I got there and respecting his turf.

He was to the point no nonsense but he could see I had a passion for the art and hats.

One thing someone might have seen before was a measuring device.

Looked like a scale.

You put any hat on this metal oval and slide the scale around expanding the metal oval until it fits the inside oval of your hat.

The scale then indicates the hat size.

There was quite a variation in all my 7 1/4 hats.

Thanks

metropd
02-20-2008, 12:39 PM
I don't think, I KNOW Gus cares about his customers. Gus is great guy and a great hatter he just has quirks like all of us.:) I don't think this is a common issue with him in fact it is a far exception. I am sorry this had to be the exception.:( Now I too did not get the pinch I wanted on the block but his felt is So incredibley pliable I did it myself, hey thats half the fun.;) Everything else was perfect.

sphughes
02-20-2008, 01:12 PM
You can't fully trust any salesman no matter what their product is.

A fair number of us earn our living in sales and would not agree with that type of generalization.

-Scott

Havana
02-21-2008, 12:49 PM
I wish to offer my appologies to anyone who may have been offended by my comments. I should not have spoken so absolutely.

John in Covina
02-21-2008, 10:54 PM
Havana, Not to pick on you but I hear this a lot except it's usually stated when a customer asks my opinion and then they say "Of course you'll say it looks good, you just want to sell a hat." That's the equivalent of calling me (usually a stranger to the customer) a liar. That takes "big ones". Hat stores are not big chains with faceless CEO's running them. All the hat stores I know of have the owner on site and care about how their customer looks when they walk out the door. Yes, our job is to sell hats but we want the customer to leave with the hat that looks and fits best. If that doesn't happen chances are the customer won't be back.
Aaron
********************
We live in an age of cynicism because we have been put apon at nearly every turn! It spoils the circumstances where a salesman is really looking out for the customer. As a buyer i know to look for the obvious and not so obvious motives in most instances and have seen shameless salesmen who examplify the Cavet Emptor attitude. THere are salesman and businesses that look at every customer not as a person to give service to but simply a "mark" best described by the attitude of Eli Wallach as the bandit in the Magnificant Seven says, "If he did not want them shorn, He would not have made them sheep."

I truly wish there were more of the "we'd rather make a friend than a sale" type businesses and salesmen out there. However that remains in the minority and for some either totally unexpected or simply unbelieveable be cause we are so jaded today.

We can expect the worst from people so much that when we get good, better or best from them it is inconceivable to us these day.

Stoney
02-21-2008, 11:02 PM
Optimo did a bang-up conversion for me & it came in right at $100 to turn this:http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g222/Greghats/Stetson_25_B4.jpg

To this:http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g222/Greghats/optimo25threequarters.jpg

That is an awesome job there Rick. How much were they able to soften up the felt?

:eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap

Panamabob
02-24-2008, 06:47 AM
I've had great luck with Gus, but yes, there has been some miscommunication. I'll tell you this, there's nothing fake about him. Of the dozen or so "real"hatters that I talk to, he's right up there on the honesty list.

Razzman
02-24-2008, 07:41 AM
Optimo did a bang-up conversion for me & it came in right at $100 to turn this:http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g222/Greghats/Stetson_25_B4.jpg

To this:http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g222/Greghats/optimo25threequarters.jpg

Excellent job by Optimo. Is the conversion something you asked for, or did you give Optimo free reign as to the outcome?
Rick if you don't mind, what about the demensions of the hat before and after the renovation. Crown height, brim width, ribbon size and binding ribbon size? Did you have the sweatband and liner replaced?

shoeshineboy
02-24-2008, 07:53 AM
First..it is SALES PERSON OR SALES REP.... The ladies should not be left out of this equation.

Second...As an Internet Manager for an auto dealership, that is really a fancy name for an online car salesperson (notice "person")...I want to say that it is with sincere regret that you had a bad experience with Gus.

Since my association with the lounge, I have been directed to four great hatters/stores to do business with. Not everything goes well everyday, but each one of them have seen to my satisfaction, Gus being one of them.

I understand your statement in general and why you feel that way. I take no offense by what you say. My viewpoint is that WE ALL SALESPEOPLE....

When a Doctor, Landscaper, or a Insurance rep listens to you and then prescribes a plan of action..that is selling...when a politician speaks about his plan for change, they are selling....when your wife says that she doesn't feel like cooking tonight and she is all dressed up and says what resturant do you want to go to tonight...she is selling...and finally when your kids, who are the most aggressive closers in the world, ask you for something in 89 different ways..they are selling...

Whenever goods, services or ideas are influenced or adapted...somebody is selling...and when you tell me that you don't believe this and you give me reasons, why...then you are trying to sell me.

This unique and open minded view can be fun to play with. My fellow colleagues will see my point and laugh as they observe thier everyday life and thier surroundings and listen to all the "salespeople out thier". A few will chuckle at the concept, but the die hards will list out reasons, like a 10 year old wanting a new bike, trying to sell me that this idea is false....lol lol lol

So with this in mind, I have only one question to ask you:

How long has it been that you do not trust yourself anymore ?


Just a thought to linger on...

With all due respect,

Mark the shoeshine boy

Rick Blaine
02-24-2008, 08:22 AM
That is an awesome job there Rick. How much were they able to soften up the felt?

:eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap



Excellent job by Optimo. Is the conversion something you asked for, or did you give Optimo free reign as to the outcome?
Rick if you don't mind, what about the demensions of the hat before and after the renovation. Crown height, brim width, ribbon size and binding ribbon size? Did you have the sweatband and liner replaced?

Thanks fellas,

Stoney, it was originally a Stetson 25 that I bought thinking it was an O.R. :eusa_doh:
The felt was already quite supple, resembling a dress weight/stiffness much more than what you would think of as typical "cowboy" hat felt.
Razz, I looked over Optimos' own selections and asked them to shoot for a final product that resembled one of three of their signature lids, The Chicago, the Manhattan or The Mitchum. I wanted to give them a certain amount of latitude to hopefully result in the best outcome. They settled on the Mitchum.

Brim 2.75"
Ribbon 1.5"
Crown: rear- 4"
front 4.75"
open- 6"
Optimos' thumbnail of the real hat in question. http://i174.photobucket.com/albums/w103/mojohaiku/MitchumFedora-1.jpg

They replaced the sweat (I wish they hadn't, but maybe there was no other choice) but retained the liner so at least some of the hats' heritage is preserved. Here are a few more details; http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g222/Greghats/optimo25threequarters.jpg
http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g222/Greghats/optimo25sidetop.jpg
http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g222/Greghats/optimo25fr2.jpg
http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g222/Greghats/optimo25front.jpg
http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g222/Greghats/DSC_0006.jpg

Justdog
02-25-2008, 02:00 PM
Awesome forming