THE BYRNIE UTZ HATS LEGACY
We spoke to Shawn Ferry, President of Byrnie Utz Hats (winner of Hat Retailer of the Year Award by the THA) to find out what was happening in his Seatle based store.
The history of the Byrnie Utz Hat Store has an illustrious past. Shawn Ferry's parents bought the store in 1990, when Shawn was only 10-years-old. His parents Paul and Bev worked in the store for quite a while. The story goes like this:
Paul's grandfather Dan was friends with Byrnie Utz Hat Store owner Duke Greenman, who was Bernie's in-law. Duke owned the store in the in 60's and 70's and Dan went to the store to go out to lunch with Duke. But, there was no one to watch the store so they asked Paul (Shawn's dad) to watch the store. As luck would have it Paul was out of work at the time and enjoyed working in this local hat store.
The arrrangement was that Paul was going to work at the store temporarily until the regular emplyee returned. But that never happened – and Paul ended up working full-time and within the next 15 years he ended up buying the business.
We also asked Shawn about business today and this is what he said:
"We're selling more hats to young people in their 20's and 30's and they're wearing small brim fedoras from companies like Dobbs, Broner, Stetson and Bailey. When it comes to a first hat (a starter hat), they like a crushable wool hat. When someone buys their first hat they're not sure what they like yet. They figure it out with a lower priced hat."
"I enjoy the business and I like dealing with customers. Ours is a small family shop. Even though I am the President I am still waiting on customers, ordering and doing the stock work, filling in the shelves – I do a little bit of everything," said Ferry.
Byrnie Utz sells Borsalino hats, Dobbs, Bailey, Dorfman Pacific and Johnathon Richards caps (as well as other brands).
When asked about his first trip to New York City and the THA Dinner Shawn had this to say:
"We could not get a cab to get us to the dinner because of the parade. My wife Tia and I ended up walking through Central Park and it was great to see the park. Everything moves so fast, but it was not the culture shock I thought it was going to be. It was like Seattle only 20 times faster."
"I was surprised at the turnout at the dinner. I thought there would just be one or two people per company and I saw companies take up a whole table. There were also a lot of people from different companies, it was a great time."
Byrnie Utz Hats - 310 Union St. Seattle, WA - (206) 623-0233