Sadly, last summer, my $12 sombrero ranchero purchased in Mexico in 2003, was accidentally squashed during our return from vacation in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. (If one is a cowboy, rather than a farmer, that same hat might be called a somebrero vaquero.)
Six months later even I, with my less-than-excellent fashion sense, had to admit that it was time to retire the hat, so I’ve switched to a Kronos-issued, “100 Quarters of Revenue Growth,” baseball cap.
Although a cowboy hat is certainly unusual in New England, there is nothing better for keeping the rain, snow, and sun off of one’s head. I find I can weather the most severe rainstorm without a jacket with the proper headwear, and a ball cap just doesn’t cut it. I’m also a bit picky about what type of hat I get. I don’t want one that is so fancy or obviously expensive that it will label me as an outsider during my trips to Mexico.
I’ve toyed around with purchasing a new hat online. Long-distance co-worker Ricardo Castillo, who works for Kronos in Cleburne, Texas, referred me to Cavenders, which seems to have a reasonable selection. I spent an hour searching for similar sites online, and found only one or two sites that fit into the “reasonable” category. Most had a truly horrible selection. Only one had affordable prices. My biggest letdown is that none of them seemed to include the traditional Mexican four feathers in the brim. Still, I should be able to remedy this by sending my wife to a craft store. (The feathers consist of one each of green, yellow, and red, plus one smaller, spotted one. I assume the colors are linked to the Mexican flag, although its major colors are green, white, and red, in that order. It may be the yellow feather is used to better contrast against the typically off-white color of the hat, or that it is easier to dye a feather yellow than bleach one to white. Maybe yellow has better color retention. Life is full of small mysteries. I did find this link about cross-cultural palettes.)
Part of the problem might be the same reason most people would be hesitant to buy shoes online. The buyer wants a hat that he knows will fit well and look good, and there is no substitute for being able to try the item on and handle the materials. So, clothing—especially certain items—purchased online would probably have a very high returned item ratio, and could, I surmise, dramatically harm the profit margin.
So, imagine my delight when, while we were up in Manchester, New Hampshire, I spotted a store, El Cowboy Pasedo, with two huge Mexican flags in the windows. After our bus visitation work, Nichelle and I eagerly entered the store.
Inside was a variety of Mexican clothing, including some very attractive sombreros.
I found an excellent hat nearly right away, confirming at least the size I need, and asked what it cost. (Hover over the text for translations.)
“¿Docientos dolares?” I asked, incredulously.
The sales clerk went on to explain that some of the hats were only $150.
I explained that the hats were indeed very beautiful, but that I was accustomed to spending only about $12 in Mexico, but that these were of finer quality. I would easily spend $25 or $50 on one like this, but that $150 to $200 was simply unaffordable.
The search continues….