Marion store offers new services

Reeda

 

Johsie Reed in the new bar in her store in Marion. JR Hatters Mercantile has moved to a new location and added a small bar in the back of the store in order to serve customers as well as to provide a venue for community events.

The new bar in JR Hatter Mercantile in Marion opened up Thanksgiving night where customers enjoyed shopping and having a few beers. The store has recently moved to a new location and added the small bar area in the back of the store in order to serve customers as well as to provide a venue for community events.

JR Hatters Mercantile has moved to a new location and added a small bar in the back of the store in order to serve customers as well as to provide a venue for community events.

If you haven’t stepped into JR Hatter Mercantile in Marion in a while, you might be surprised at some of the changes that have happened. First of all, the store’s location has moved a bit further east down Main Street to 308 East Main Street where Bearly Makin’ It Antiques used to be.

“I didn’t own the old building and we really just outgrew the space which really just breaks my heart because I loved that store,” said owner Johsie Reed. “The store I am in now was owned by Dennis [Maggard] and Oggie [Marion Ogden]. They still have the mill outside of town and are still dealing with antiques. They knew I needed to grow and they were ready to step back and be a little more retired. Dennis is my uncle so it’s really neat now to be able to step into his shoes. I grew up in that store so I’ve been cashing people out from behind that big counter since I was probably 10 years old.”

In addition to the new space, the store has added a beer and hang out area in the back. The decision to add a bar was two-fold—to provide a service for her customers and to help provide a place for community-building events.

“We created the bar because we wanted to throw events in the shop, but the main reason we got our beer permit is so that when two or three guys come in to get hat work done, they can come in, enjoy themselves and just kick back. It takes about 45 minutes for each hat to get fitted so you just need something for them to kill time. We do several wedding parties which can be seven or more people so it is nice for them to have that,” said Reed.

Her main focus is still the art of making hats and selling items though and not operating a bar.

Reed said, “It’s not really a full-time open bar, but you can have a drink any time you do come into the store to shop. And we will be having a lot of events and musicians and people through for community events so we will be sure to get the word out when we do have those types of things.”

One of those events will be the annual street dance in July. Marion wasn’t able to have it in 2021 because of COVID-19 so they moved it to October.

“We had it around Halloween and that was really fun, but the goal is to get it back to July which I think we will be able to,” said Reed.

Reed also has all kinds of plans with local artists as well as artists throughout Kansas to bring them in for fun events.

“There is a lot of culture and history in the western industry. I’m seeing more and more people going back to the way things were done back in the day. They are supporting local tradesmen and craftsmen and I think that is really cool.”

Reed herself is a talented tradesman who has done hats for movies, celebrities and musicians and strives for her craft to be authentic. She grew up in Marion, but she moved with her family to Colorado during her teen years. After Reed got married, she and her husband moved out to Los Angeles where she learned how to make hats.
She moved back to Kansas several years ago and worked at Hatman Jacks and then was a manager at Shepler’s. And now she has found her way back to Marion County.
“I moved back to be at home with my family so it was important to me to be back in Marion, where I grew up, so I could raise my son here,” said Reed. “And it’s working. I do a lot of shows here. There are a lot of weekends we are closed like for the rodeo in Strong City.”
Reed has hats that are basically a blank canvas. Customers can choose how they want the hat shaped for everything from the crowns to the brims.
“We want to make sure it is what the customer wants. That they are wearing the hat and not the hat wearing them,” said Reed. “I want people to leave with what they want.”
She said they carry custom brands with a wide range of open, flat-brimmed hats that are specially shaped to the wearer’s head as well as Stetsons and other pre-shaped hats.

All the tools I use are about 114-120 years old. I try to do everything the way that hat work was done originally minus the mercury. Did you know that the mad hatter term is because the hatters literally became crazy from the mercury they used making the hats?” Reed asked.
In addition to the hats, Reed sells shoes, belts, belt buckles and jewelry.

The hours for JR Hatters Mercantile are Monday and Tuesday by appointment, Wednesday through Friday, Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and closed on Sundays. You can find the store on Facebook and at www.jrhatters.com. The number for the store is 620-381-4392.

More from Laura Fowler Paulus
Get together helps moms sending students off
The first day of school can bring many mixed emotions for all...
Read More