Hatman Jack's: A Wichita Tradition
Hatman Jack’s Hatworks is not only a family tradition, but also a Wichita tradition.
Owner Jack Kellogg comes from a family that has been involved in Wichita small business since the 1870’s. Jack began at Hatman Jack’s when he was 15 years old, giving him decades of experience in perfecting his craft.
The nostalgic shop, now the third largest hat shop in the nation, specializes in the lost art of quality hat fitting and takes an artisan approach to an age-old trade, providing a custom product that you won’t find anywhere else. Boasting a three generation legacy of expertise and a classic hat shop experience, Hatman Jack’s keeps people coming back.
“Just in my shop, we have a group of customers and supporters that are repeat customers who have been coming back since the very beginning, and that’s three generations. I have 40 year olds that come in here and go “I was here as a little kid,” Kellogg said.
For many of these long term customers, the experience hasn’t changed. In addition to a variety of timeless, classic hat styles on display, visitors at Hatman Jack’s will see the same antique hat blocks used to shape hats generations ago. By using old-world equipment, Jack and his staff are able to make modifications to the fit and shape of their hats to fit the face of each customer. The hats can also be tailored to specific features, bringing a highly personalized product to every customer that walks through the door.
The old-fashioned craft paired with friendly, personal service make visiting Hatman Jack’s feel like stepping into an earlier time. It is likely because of this that Hatman Jack’s has grown to become not only a very successful hat shop, but also a must-see location in Wichita.
“A lot of times, we’ll have established customers if they have friends or family in from out of town, they’ll bring them here and be like ‘You guys have to see this,’” Erin Patten of Hatman Jack’s said.
“We really have become a tourist destination,” Kellogg said.
In a trade like Jack’s, there’s a lot of history. In addition to the 40 year old shop’s story, even more pieces of history are brought through the doors for reconstruction.
“People bring in hats that were their grandfathers or it was special to them for this reason, like a deceased relative, or somebody brought it back from the war” Patten said. “Sometimes we can reconstruct it.”
According to Patten, a reconstruction typically consists of cleaning and repairing, adding new sweatbands, and fixing and replacing trims. When these steps are taken, old, worn-out hats are completely revitalized and can look like new, depending on the extent of the damage.
“We’re one of the few places that clean and block hats in the nation. And we do it as a service to our customers, we really do,” Kellogg said. “People get sentimental about hats. Really sentimental, and that’s what’s really fun about it.”
Hatman Jack’s has thousands of hats in the shop at a time, offering a variety of off the rack styles including fedoras, western, sun protection, Kentucky derby and more. These styles are later modified to fit the customer. This can be done by shaping as well as adding a custom trim. The shop can usually make these adjustments at the time of the purchase, and the staff works while you wait. It’s really something to see.
“When we take a hat that is round in the top and flat in the brim, and we transform it right before your eyes into something that is so completely different, it’s hard to describe, but it’s really interesting to watch,” Kellogg said.
The staff at Hatman Jacks really enjoy their work, but most of all they enjoy getting to know the customers that they work with.
“It’s the people. It’s got to be. And it’s the craft.” Kellogg said. “It’s always about making somebody happy. I think we all operate on that same premise.”