Old-School Brooklyn Hat Store Keeps Hasids and Hipsters Looking Dapper
By Nate Lavey
Published June 03, 2013, The Jewish Daily Forward
Stanley Goldstein sits at the center of a narrow hat store in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, fielding customers’ questions about brim sizes, crowns and colors. Bencraft Hatters, which was first opened in 1948 by Goldstein’s father, has been selling hats to Jews and non-Jews for 65 years and carries everything from cowboy hats and flat caps to the fedoras and Homburgs favored by the religious crowd. At 85, Goldstein still oversees much of the operation in Williamsburg, while Steven Goldstein, Stanley Goldstein’s son and the other owner of the business, can often be found shuttling between Williamsburg and the Goldsteins’ other store in Boro Park. In their own way, the two stores represent different part of New York’s Jewish community: The Williamsburg location accommodates a more secular crowd, including hipsters, while in Boro Park the clientele tends to be distinctly Orthodox.
Steven explained that “there are three or four hat stores in Boro Park, and for the most part each hat store takes care of a different sect of the community.” Bencraft is mostly oriented toward the Lubavitch and Modern Orthodox communities, which are not heavily represented in Boro Park. That means that customers sometimes trek across the city just to try on a Borsalino.
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