Sincere Southwest Shopping

December 1, 2022

For my birthday, my family flew out from Los Angeles to Tucson to celebrate with me. Currently, I am a freshman here at the University of Arizona. Since I have only known Tucson for a few months, so I thought it would be fun to go to a western-style hat store because we are now in the true southwest. We did our research through Google and came up with Arizona Hatters on N Campbell Ave.

While the colors were not vibrant – more achromatic – there was a wide variety of hats ranging from modern to vintage, some fur-based, some straw, some leather. Each hat lends itself to a different occasion: going to rodeos, working at the ranch, dancing at a country-western bar.

As a college student who is not looking to be too extravagant, I found the perfect choice: a black cowboy hat from the middle section that I knew would look good with different outfits. I took it to the mirror and gave it a good look and asked my mom for her opinion. She said it looks great, so I then gave my selection to Dominic, a worker, who then was able to fit the hat correctly.

Personally, I love embracing many cultures of the world through traveling, shopping, and even expanding my food pallet. Being a part of the University of Arizona, I am highly aware that the city of Tucson has a rich South-Western culture. I wanted to partake in some of the fashion traditions that Tucson has to offer.

Another day, my roommate and friend, Reed, asked to go to Arizona Hatters to check it out for himself as a Texas native. He even asked to bring along his classmate, Tomás, to the store because he knew that Tomás would be interested since he was born in Mexico.

When we walked in, we were met with owner Chuong Trinh and Dominic. Chuong is the current owner. She mmigrated to the United States right before her home town of Saigon fell during the Vietnam war. Coming to the U.S.A. is a major adjustment, so she had to put her skills to use and needed to find some work. According to Arizona Hatter’s website, upon moving to Tucson, Chuong found herself “where she worked as a seamstress and dressmaker until she connected with Arizona Hatters.”

While Reed and Tomás were off on the side looking in the mirror and previewing different selections of hats, I was able to catch up with Dominic and learn about Arizona Hatters. I was able to learn not only the shop, but the process and products they have in-stock, being: the hats themselves, optional bands for the hats, genuine leather belts, and even vests.

An enthusiastic establishment with a long history

Claimed by Dominic as “the western hat capital of the world,” Arizona Hatters surely provides its customers with a vast selection of western-style hats. Since it opened in 1935, he told me, “anybody who has had an interest in western hats has come to Arizona Hatters.”

At Arizona Hatters, you are met with high quality hats and accessories all over the walls. As described by Dominic, Arizona Hatters has a range of “hats going for $40 all the way up to hats that can go for $600, made of different materials like palm leaf, straw, fur-felt material, or even some leather hats.” When it comes to unique hats, Arizona Hatters does not come up short in their ability to provide for everyone’s needs. I went with an Outback Trading Company wool hat for just under $100.

The process of fitting a hat is very simple. As Dominic explains, “We make sure to get the right fit and style for you, whatever frames your face nicely, then you get to pick your customization being the shape and the band if you want.” After finding this black cowboy hat, I noticed that it was just slightly too big for me. No problem! Dominic just put parchment paper in the inseams to create a tighter fit. Next, took the hat to the back where he steamed and hand-formed it to give it a fine shape. In the end, right before ringing us up, he was able to remove a small feather that I was not a fan of.

Sure, I could’ve gone for another baseball cap – I played and still love baseball- but I wanted something different. I am from Los Angeles, but I am not living there for school, I am in Tucson now. I know that Tucson has a rich southwest culture, so thought it would be fun to buy something that represents that. After I bought the hat, my family and I went out to a nice restaurant for my birthday, and I knew it was the perfect place to show off the new purchase.


Jakob A. is a freshman at the University of Arizona studying Business.