PORTAGE PARK — Hats Plus was a Six Corners staple for more than 30 years — but come Sunday, the owner is hanging up his hat for good and retiring.
Martin Mann, who opened the shop at 4706 W. Irving Park Road in 1987, closed its physical store on Feb. 17, 2018. Since then, Mann, who operated the store for its last few years from his home in Colorado, has been selling his inventory of about 35,000 hats online only and running a blog called Hat Chronicles.
In its heyday, Hats Plus sold hats to musicians, more than a dozen theater and opera companies, celebrities like Michael Jordan and Michael Caine, as well as regular Northwest Side working stiffs. The store featured more than 600 models of hats from brands such as Stetson, Kangol, Borsalino, Dobbs, Biltmore and Bailey.
Mann said he closed the physical shop in 2018 because of online competition — and now that he’s sold most of his remaining inventory, he’s decided to retire.
“The retail environment has been getting more difficult for years,” Mann said. “There’s online competition, people don’t shop in stores as much and expenses keep going up.
“As far as the web is concerned, it’s just as competitive as the retail environment. You’ve got competition from everybody. If you go on Amazon they take a lot of money and if you do it yourself you have to have a certain amount of skill in order to manage a website.”
Mann said although he lives in Colorado, he visits family in Chicago from time to time.
A construction permit has been issued for a restaurant to take over the old hat store, according to a city website.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.