Thursday, April 15, 2010

What's In a Hat?

If you have seen me in person you have no doubt noticed the fairly large tattoo of the Mad Hatter I have on my right forearm. Many would and have considered this to be somewhat of an odd piece of body art, but it applies to my life in two very real ways. First and foremost is my love of Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland and all corresponding material by the author, the second would be my love of hats. I can regularly be seen in a variety of noggin accoutrement including fedoras, cabbie hats, panama hats, homburg hats, top hats, cowboy hats, ball caps, and even pirate hats on occasion. Needless to say I love hats. As is my custom when I have a little extra money lying around and it happens to be anywhere even remotely close to my birthday, anniversary, or Christmas, I picked up a new hat yesterday (my birthday is a scant month away!). This year's acquisition was a new black fur felt Homburg purchased from the only hat store worth shopping at in my opinion: Batsakes. My Homburg is a black Selentino brand hat with a leather sweat band and a silk liner, as well as coming with two feather arrangements. The cost was around $170.00 with tax, and while this is a couple of dollars more than you could find the hat for online, you don't have to pay shipping costs, or wait for your new hat to arrive, plus you have the option to try on different sizes which is always a plus if you are unaware of your hat size. If you are looking for an accessory for your own personal dome, this store has whatever you might be looking for, and if they don't have it they can get it or Gus Miller (the owner) can make it. That's right, Gus Miller is one of the only people you will find still making hats in his own shop. Stepping into Batsakes is like stepping back in time. Batsakes has been open since 1905 and Gus inherited the shop from his uncle, whom he used to sweep up for and who taught him the haberdashery trade. The store is piled full of hats, and even has a shoe shine station set up on one of the front walls. Gus, his wife, and the shoe shine gentleman are the only individuals you will find working in the shop, but there are always people coming in and out, getting a new hat or a shine, or simply wanting to talk to Gus. Gus has made hats for everyone from Snoop Dogg to George W. and H.W. Bush, as well as renowned tenor Luciano Pavarotti. I have always had wonderful service at Batsakes, as well as always receiving a top quality product, and I will continue to shop at Batsakes as long as it remains open, which I hope for the sakes of all of our craniums is forever. So do yourself a favor and visit Batsakes before it is too late! This store is not only one of the best haberdasheries around, but it is a Cincinnati Icon, and Gus Miller is a living legend.

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