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Sunday, June 9, 2013


Last fall Goorin Bros. opened a hat shop in Minneapolis, five blocks away from where I live in the Uptown neighborhood.  When the shop opened, I remember thinking how odd it seemed that hat shops were still around.  For me they seemed to be something from a bygone area that seemed out of step with our modern world.  Boy, was I ever wrong!

The store is amazing, and there is an incredible feeling that one gets while standing in the midst of shelves upon shelves of hats.  It’s a connection to a lost, romantic time in history that is somehow reborn in our contemporary world.  

Cassel Goorin

Goorin Bros. history began in 1895 when Cassel Goorin started making custom made hats, which he sold from a horse-drawn cart.  Cassel treated every customer as a guest and each hat was designed to be at individual as its wearer - incorporating just the right feather, trim, and lining.

Throughout the next century, Goorin Bros. continued to find ways to sustain a business that many might have thought was long gone.  In the 1940’s, Cassel’s sons, Alfred and Ted Goorin, started the Grenadier Division, which celebrated their father’s love of the outdoors.  This sporting line accommodated the needs of hunters, fishermen, campers, and general outdoor enthusiasts.  Building on this love of the outdoors, in 1960, Goorin hats became the official headwear for the VIII Olympic Winter Games.

The 1990’s brought a renewed interest in hats, both traditional and non-traditional, and Goorin was there to fill that need.  Drawing from their archives, they were able to take their classic designs and give them a fresh look for today’s young consumers.  I’m intrigued, and enheartened, by the number of young people I see in the shop here in Uptown.  These twenty and thirty-something folks are reviving the art of wearing classic, traditional styled hats, but are giving it their own unique sense of style and flare, and the result is spectacular.

Goorin’s website tells us that, “There was a time when neighborhood hat shops existed in just about every community in America. The friendly and knowledgeable Shopkeepers served its regular customers and created a gathering place, like the local tavern or barber shop.”  

I’m not sure if this revival of the neighborhood hat shop as replaced or matched the social setting of the local bars and clubs, but what I do see in that store is a younger generation of customers engaged in friendly conversation with the sales staff (also younger) and learning the history, tradition, and culture of wearing hats.  

This summer’s release of Buz Luhrman’s rendition of “The Great Gatsby” has also help to spark the renewed interest in hats, and has introduced them to a whole new generation.  Its seems that hat shops are far from the product of a bygone time, and are instead reclaiming their place as a vital social and educational center for the next generation.

My neighborhood Gorrin Bros. Hat Shop hosted their own “Gatsby Party” this summer.

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