It was a lively scene at 5th Avenue shop Goorin Bros. on Saturday August 24, when employees, hat enthusiasts, friends, and neighbors came out to celebrate the shop’s second anniversary. Attendees– many dressed in togas, per the Animal House theme– filled the space for a night of dancing, drinking, and of course shopping, luring curious pedestrians from the street to join in the party. Costumes aside, the scene didn’t look too different from a typical Friday night at the vintage-styled hat shop.
The parties are some of the neighborhood’s best-kept secrets, though they’re becoming less and less secret every week. Since July, they’ve hosted live music events on Friday nights as part of a summer jazz series. They’ve also screened monthly movies (we particularly enjoyed The Sandlot). The evenings usually begin with a free happy hour, offering specially made cocktails in big punch bowls, and continue until closing with guests and shoppers casually enjoying the entertainment while trying on the merchandise– which, during the events, are on sale at 15% off.
It’s part of the shop’s wish to provide not just a product but a social experience– a philosophy initially put into practice by former shopkeeper Alexander Mroz and continued today by Nicky Cutler.
“I really feel like ours is a really solid neighborhood shop,” Nicky says. “The neighborhood has welcomed us. It’s a good place to be.”
The family-run company, founded in 1895 in San Francisco, CA, chose Park Slope for its first New York location in 2011 and has since expanded to the West Village and Williamsburg. They offer men’s, women’s, and children’s hats in a wide range of styles and price points, created through traditional craftsmanship and sold with friendly, knowledgeable customer service.
Nicky, who started at Goorin Bros Park Slope when the shop opened and moved up to shopkeeper in June, leads an enthusastic team of hat experts, all of whom are eager to help the shopper find exactly what he or she is looking for. Each represents a different niche within Goorin Bros.’ many styles, and all are well-equipped to match a customer with a hat based on size, stature, personality, and style.
“Everybody here is pretty obsessed with hats, and we all have a unique style,” Nicky says. “I’d say for 97-99% of our customers, we can find a hat. We can make hats smaller and we can also stretch very large hats. I would take the challenge for pretty much anyone to come in, and we’ll find the right hat for them.”
During our chat, Nicky– whose self-described style is “casual” and a little “skater-esque”– wears a one-of-a-kind model (“The Sideboy” in black) handed over by owner Ben Goorin himself at the anniversary party. Though the Goorin family runs a successful nationwide chain, they make it a point to familiarize themselves with each branch.
“Ben comes in here and knows all of our merchants names,” Nicky says. “He’s super chill, and extremely motivated, and just cutting edge for an owner of a company. He takes into consideration what we say, from merchants up to shopkeepers.”
Suddenly the shop’s dedication to familiar and personalized customer service makes sense– it’s enacted even at the broadest level.
(Photo courtesy of Goorin Bros)
So what does Nicky have planned for the future of the shop?
The live music will continue through the fall, with acts booked for Fridays until early October. Two photography projects are scheduled to be shot and showcased at the shop– one, Nisha Sondhe‘s “Hat Series” which will feature the employees themselves; the other, a masculine-of-center shoot by gender-bending fashion site DapperQ. They’re also hoping to plan a mixer– “A lot of blind dates come in here,” Nicky says– possibly with the help of dating site OKCupid.
And then, of course, there is the Heisenberg of it all. Breaking Bad fans likely have heard that the show’s iconic Heisenberg hat is created by Goorin Bros., and the Park Slope shop was chosen as one of the few shops to receive the collection of exclusive hats and hat boxes. They will release the batch at a Breaking Bad party, though the date so far is being kept a secret. All in all, the shop will continue as not just a place to pick up your newest hat but also a legitimate entertainment destination.
“We’re just continuing our effort to be the best customer service shop that we can possibly be, so that everyone who comes in here feels really amazing when they leave,” Nicky says. “That’s the kind of environment I’d like to continue to create here, along with having some great events, and parties. It’s making hats more of an experience than just coming in and walking out of your generic shop. There’s a definite flavor, an old-school hat shop feel.”
Goorin Bros. is located at 195B 5th Avenue, (718) 783-4287. Open 11 am – 8 pm Monday – Tuesday & Thursday – Friday, 11 am – 11 pm Wednesdays, 11 am – 9 pm Saturdays, and 11 am – 7 pm Sundays.