Perhaps nothing did more to popularize cowboy hats than the Western movies and TV shows of the fifties. Kids had their favorite cowboy and knew his horse’s name and what kind of cowboy hat he wore. With no computer games to play, imagination became more important. Kids loved to play cowboys and Indians.
Retailers were too sharp to let this demand escape them. There were no malls or internet, so the Sears catalog became the shopping tool that reached every part of rural America and cowboy outfits were part of the kids section. You could buy a Roy Rogers outfit with everything from hat to holster. These kids grew up thinking that cowboy hats were always a part of the Wild West.
Actually, what we consider a cowboy hats today didn’t exist before 1865 when John B. Stetson created The Boss of the Plains, a felt cowboy hat with a high rounded crown. This Stetson sold for $5 originally and the company based in Philadelphia produced over 2 million hats a year by the early 1900s.
Soon cowboys wanted to express their own individuality by adding creases to the high rounded crown. This turned into a study of its own and the cowboy hat business developed a litany of creases, each with its own name. Here are a few:
- Cattleman Crease: This crease went from the front of the crown to the back with indentions on each side. The cattleman cowboy hats is a dressy look seen on the TV series Dallas.
- Teardrop Indention: The shape has the rounded crown pushed down and then a teardrop shape pushing back up making more room for the head and leaving a trough around the teardrop.
- Pinch Front: Usually accompanying a teardrop indention, the hat comes to somewhat of a point at the top of the crown with pinch indentions on each side. An Indiana Jones type shape
- Gus Crease: Often called Montana Peak before the TV mini-series Lonesome Dove. Captain Gus in the series wore this hat. It is a ten gallon with a crease sloping down the front.
- Telescope Indention: The indention usually seen on gambler hats. The oval crown rises at a slight angle inward. The top is pushed down and then back up (sometimes referred to as a C indention) making more room for the head. This leaves a sharp ridge around the top of the oval crown.
Serious western hat fans know the creases and those that have custom hats made request the crease they want. But most cowboy hat fans today don’t know what they call them, but know what they like. In addition to the creases, many cowboy hats are shapeable and this provides even more opportunity to give the headwear personality.
The cowboy hat continues to evolve. This is the second year that vibrant colors in cowgirl hats are trending up–colors like vibrant yellow, hot pink, and orange or pumpkin.
Also palm straws made in Mexico are bringing the authentic Western look to cowboy hats, many with high crowns or wide brims. These style don’t have the wired brims that make shaping easy, but they have an authentic look expected at rodeos, horse shows, or country music halls in Texas.
If you visit a Western store, you are sure to see the palm straw cowboy hats with a firm body like the one shown. Theses are serious cowboy hats for trail rides and rodeos.
But if your location is selling cowboy hats to wear to the beach or working outdoors, the toyo and straw hats dominate this market. New arrivals include eye-catching pinch front cowboy hats in all the popular colors. You not only get handsome shape and plenty of color choices , but also a low wholesale price that makes retailing easy.
If you feel these styles don’t fit your customer, browse the rest of the hats in the cowboy hat category. There are around 70 styles to pick from. Cowboy hats deserve some representation in your headwear selection because this is an American icon in hats. I am sure it will never go away.
Do most small retail fashion businesses slow down in the summer? That’s a well kept secret. Little is written about it, but it happens nearly every summer. I can look at statistics going back five years on our website and see a dip in visitors during the summer months. Sales figures reflect the same thing. For most small fashion businesses, summers are going to be slower. Why does this happen?
First of all, people are going on vacation or doing things outdoors they couldn’t do in winter months. That means less time shopping and less time in front of the computer. Also big retail events like prom, Easter, and Mother’s Day are over.
ITEMS AND EVENTS TO PICK UP SUMMER SALES
The good news is there are items that have a track record of increased sales in the summer or, at least remaining steady. While many of the events we look forward to are pasts, there are many that arrive in summer, but receive less fanfare. Think of all the outdoor retail events that summer brings—swap meets, street fairs, festivals, church picnics, craft shows, flea markets, conventions, garden shows, tourist destinations, and outdoor sporting events. Opportunities are endless. We need to change our focus to satisfy consumers’ wants for summer months.
For us, one item surges ahead of all others every summer. That item is hats. As some items slow, casual hats pick up the slack. And there are a variety of hats that sell. The inexpensive straw hats for festival goers, outdoor workers, and vacationers are high on the list. Rush straw hats with wide enough brims to provide relief form the sun like safari and gambler hats are big. Those more interested in looks than shade also like rush straw fedoras.
Women working in their yard or engaged in outdoor events like simple wide brim straws. Rush and palm straw deliver swinger shapes at inexpensive prices for ladies.
But when they want something more fashionable, wide brims and super wide brims are the ladies choices. Upbrims like kettles are also popular ladies summer hats. And sewn-and-braid wheat straws provide a boutique quality hat inspired by Milan straws.
JEWELRY THAT REMAINS STEADY OR PEAKS IN THE SUMMER
Besides hats, there categories of jewelry that remain steady or increase in sales during summer months. Before we get to them, let’s think about the sales opportunities listed above. Vendors at most of these events have booths and their booths draw customers because they focus on one category of merchandise. Our business sees three categories of jewelry that vendors chose to make a statement at these events:
- Hematite Jewelry
- Gemstone Jewelry
- Theme Pendants and Earrings
One thing that makes these categories good is they have a story to tell. Remember a decade ago when people wore copper bracelets because they felt the bracelets provided relief from arthritic pain? Today people believe that about hematite jewelry. Like copper bracelets, hematite is a mineral. Many are certain that wearing hematite relieves pain even they will never find it documented in a medical journal.
Another thing about hematite jewelry is all the carved pendants the necklaces have. These themes pull at the heart strings of many shoppers. And they are not al themes for gals. Hematite jewelry also has wolf heads, horses, arrowheads, and other pendants that appeal to guys. It’s hard to resist this inexpensive jewelry with its steel gray color and high luster.
So many different semi precious stones and each piece unique—you have to love this business. A booth of gemstone jewelry has endless stories to tell. These natural stones have banding, inclusions, color, hardness, and a million other things to talk about.
The America Indians used it and probably every culture in the history of the world. It’s in our blood. We can’t look down and see an interesting stone without picking it up. The cold feel indicates it’s real. If I were doing shows, this would be my booth.
THEME PENDANTS AND EARRINGS
Who can resists a booth full of shiny crafted metal dimensionally shaped in every theme imaginable? That is what the “Best” pendant and matching earring line offers. This intricately crafted fashion jewelry is the collectibles of the next generation. Most pieces are stamped from a thin sheet of steel with dimensionally raised shape with detail that is unbelievable. From motorcycles to flower blossoms and baseball Mom pendants, this line hardly misses a theme.
Some are epoxied with color, but most have a high polished silver plated finish that can’t be distinguished from sterling silver. The pendant numbers begin with PD. If you change the PD to FS and put the code number starting with FS in the search on the site, it will bring up the matching earrings and you can make sets. For the utmost in craftsmanship, it is hard to beat this line in fashion jewelry. A booth of this merchandise draws a crowd.
Everyone knows summer is vacation time, but it is also a time when many organizations have their conventions. What are the major conventions that assemble during the summer months? Church conventions, Veterans groups, and Masonic conventions have to be among the most numerous. Certain items see a sharp increase in sales because of these conventions.
WHITE DRESS HATS AND SCARVES FOR CHURCH CONVENTIONS
At church conventions, many congregations require their members to wear a white dress hat on a certain day. This increases the demand for white church hats at a time when many wholesalers are out of dress hats. We try to be long in white church hats to prepare for the summer demand. Sinamays, organzas, pillboxes, and satin braid hats—nearly everything your customers will want in white church hats is still available on the site.
Scarves are also important for these conventions. Church conventions like scarves in religious themes. These are not easy to find. We do our best to keep as many designs as possible in our selection of scares to fill this need.
Since many of these conventions are gospel music workshops, music scarves also do well. Even if you are not a convention vendor, many of these items will sell in your shop for your customers going to conventions.
NECKTIES FOR CONVENTIONS
Men’s ties that have themes are important items for summer conventions. Our site has a category for Masonic ties, religious ties, and American flag ties. These categories fill the needs for Masonic conventions, Church conventions, and Veterans conventions. Again, if your shop is near the convention center or your customers are going to attend, you have an excellent opportunity to move this merchandise. Summer is the best time of the year for these theme ties, mostly because of all these conventions.
This is the tip of the iceberg for items that increase in sales during the summer months. So we can feel better about summer business. In the seventies, our business concentrated on American Indian jewelry and we did a lot of festivals and outdoor events. In those days, summer was the best time of the year and I hated to see it end.
Summer is here and outdoor activities are cranking up. All kinds of interesting merchandise is populating booths at swap meets, flea markets, festivals, church picnics, and other outdoor events. You can be sure that you will see booths of hematite jewelry in the mix. What is hematite all about and why are there booths totally dedicated to it?
Hematite jewelry has a steel gray luster that glistens, making it attractive to all age groups. It also has themes that appeal to shopper’s hearts with pendants in dolphins, horses, crosses, hearts, and every imaginable theme that people are interested in. But more than anything else, many people see hematite as a mineral that can relieve pain. I have wholesale customers that are selling hematite jewelry because they personally experienced relief from pain.
You won’t find this in medical journals, but also, you won’t convince anyone that experienced relief that this is a myth. Remember the copper bracelets of a decade ago? Many attributed relief from the pain of arthritis to wearing these bracelets. My Mom was one of these people and was convinced that copper bracelets brought relief.
In both cases, the jewelry is mineral based. Hematite is an iron oxide. This is a common mineral used in making steel.
Hematite jewelry includes necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and anklets. Wholesale price for hematite jewelry is very reasonable—usually under $2.00. When you consider all the work that goes into making hematite jewelry including hematite beds that need to be strung and pendants that are carved another question comes to mind—is it real?
Manufactured hematite is ground and cast, which is far less labor intense than carving. Is the material the same? According to Diana Norman Designs, it is very close to mined hematite. Hematite’s formula is Fe3O4 and processed hematite is Fe2O3. Both have the characteristic luster and cold feel.
Those involved in lapidary work use different test to identify semi precious tones and minerals. One test is a streak test where the stone is scratched of ceramic to see the color of the streak left. Mined hematite leaves a red streak while manufactured leaves a gray streak. Nevertheless, with properties nearly the same, the hematite seen in booths at swap meets and flea markets has the same qualities as the mined hematite. And this is the hematite jewelry like the cross necklace shown that those that believe it remedies pain are wearing.
Entrepreneurs looking for products that can produce sales in the summer need to consider hematite. Most hematite necklaces wholesale for $1.50, bracelets for $1.25 as well as earrings. A small investment can make an adequate display and low competition enables vendors to maintain a decent markup.
Hematite jewelry has wide appeal to consumers. Guys like bolder beaded necklaces as well s themes like horse heads, eagles, arrowheads, and crosses. Gals like hearts, dolphins, angels, Y designs, and also crosses. Some themes like peace signs draw young consumers, while the entire line draws seniors that want pain relief. Looking for a summertime business? This is an inexpensive option that has demand.