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JR Hatters packs up store between rodeos

Staff writer

Six to eight times a year, JR Hatters packs up its whole store — merchandise and equipment alike — to set down at rodeos and trade shows across the state.

This time is a little different, however, because the store is moving up to a larger building in between rodeo weekends.

Johsie Reid, owner and operator, plans to close on the store’s new location June 15. JR Hatters will be at Ben Johnson Days in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, on June 18 and 19 and then move into the new location a short distance from downtown Marion July 1.

“We’ve outgrown this building,” Reid said.

The store carries everything from Stetson to Charlie 1 Horse, as well as Wrangler jeans and other clothing besides hats.

“We’re moving to become a full western clothing store,” she said.

Reid has been creating hats for 19 years, starting in Vail, Colorado.

“I was driving a horse-drawn carriage and I needed a hat,” Reid said. “The guy at the hat shop there was one of the founders of Vail, and he taught me everything; we worked together near the chair lift at Vail.”

She moved from Vail to Wichita, then to Marion. She goes from Marion to rodeos across Kansas, such as the Flint Hills Rodeo this past weekend.

“We don’t just sell things; we interact with our customers,” Reid said. “Our booth is set up as a denim tent, and we have branding available for kid’s initials or for ranch brands. We try to have fun with the crowd and our customers.”

JR Hatter’s customers mean everything to Reid.

“When you put a hat on somebody’s head, they stand up tall in the mirror afterwards with their shoulders back, and they’re proud of your work,” Reid said. “I take their dream for a hat, and I create it.”

A big reason for the store to visit so many rodeos is to keep up with customers, who often don’t have the chance to come by the store.

“I’ve had customers who get unpacked at a rodeo, then they get a call that their pasture is on fire and they need to drive home,” Reid said. “Our customers don’t get a chance to drop everything to shop, so we bring the shopping to them.”

Another of Reid’s favorite parts of the business is the ability to carry on traditional Western culture.

“We try to do things the way our grandparents did, and we don’t plan to change from that,” Reid said.

While JR Hatters may be getting a new store, “some of our tools in here are 150 years old,” she said with pride. “Western culture is based around family, American pride, and history. We honor our god and our country. We’re built around the culture of the Western industry. And there hasn’t been one time at a rodeo where they say the cowboy prayer and I haven’t cried.”

Last modified June 10, 2021

 

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