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My trip to JW Hats for Mentoring and Hat making

Kevin, I haven't been around much, but just wanted to say, I miss chatting with you. Your a good fellow. I have a lot of respect for you and your desires to make hats. I wish you all the best. I knew JW, was sick, sad to hear he passed away. At least you got there man, and got er, done. How did that hat turn out, that you were working on back in the beginning ? Anyway glad to know your doing good!
Be well.
Cheers.
 

T Jones

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,708
Location
Central Ohio
Unfortunately I don't know what the fate of the shop will be. Things very well could end up for auction or on eBay too.
I would hate to see that happen. That shop has been around since the 19th century. JW told me that Jack Dempsey was even a customer there way back in the day. I hope that somebody's able to step in and keep the shop going. It would be a shame to see that bit of history disappear forever.
 

RetroStyle

New in Town
Messages
16
Location
United States
Hi all,

I'm sorry if this info exists elsewhere on the lounge, but as this thread previously ended in a question mark, I wanted to add an update.

I visited JW Hats yesterday for the first time. The kind man at the counter noticed me admiring their vintage blocks and immediately offered to have his boss give me a tour. The new owner is a very kind guy named Raymond. He told me that for years he often hung around the shop to learn from JW. When JW first hinted at plans to sell the shop, Raymond replied that he would buy it. JW brushed it off as insincere with an "eh, get outta here kid," buy Raymond kept coming back. One day in the shop two years ago, Raymond reiterated his interest and JW agreed, saying he thought it was time. Raymond purchased the outfit and JW unfortunately passed away a month later. If I remember right, another prodigy of JW's, proprietor of Burns Hats (Salina/Park City, UT) stepped in to mentor Raymond with the transition.

JW Hats still focuses on Western hats as that's what their primary clientele want, but they also make custom fedoras in wool (though he really dislikes using the material), 100% rabbit, 50/50 rabbit/beaver, and 100% beaver. He'll do either Western or dress weight. At the high end, the 100% beaver is about $600 for a custom Western weight and $525 for dress weight. He's got vintage ribbon too.

If you want a cool, albeit expensive, date, they offer a make-your-own-hat night!

Raymond mentioned that the shop is still well-known for being a hatter's training ground and source for tools/equipment. He estimates that for around $3,000 you can get all the essentials to get up and running and for about $30,000 you can have a full-blown operation with every size and tool one could want.

As a side-note, there's some bad blood between JW Hats and Tatton Baird. Raymond was too kind to give any detail, but mentioned the Tatton Baird guy was trained by JW himself, worked for him for a year, then somehow did some shady stuff, leaving JW in a bad spot. Now Tatton passes itself off as descending directly through Utah's historic hat maker legacy, though apparently that's quite a stretch. In short, trust and respect is currently low between shops. Take this with a grain of salt though because I haven't heard Tatton's side of the story. Regardless, if you don't care care about the personal rivalry, either shop makes quality goods.

JW Hats seems less aggressive or skilled than some with marketing, social media, fancy photography, etc. Otherwise, I think the shop would be much better known.

Finally, I was very impressed with Raymond and think the humble shop is still worth your consideration for your next hat.


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