Exchanging Words with The Haberdashery

Nicholas Friesen Blog

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If the clothes make the man, then the hat makes the outfit. Or, if you’re Luke Nolan from The Haberdashery, the hat makes the career.

After going to school for graphic arts and putting in six years as a pressman (which he calls “bloody boring”), Nolan helped out a friend at his retail outlet over the holiday season about 15 years ago. Discovering he was a natural born salesperson, Nolan’s idea to open a hat shop in Winnipeg quickly became a reality with his first kiosk at St. Vital Centre. Discovering that renting a shop of his own would cost aa quarter of the shopping centre rent, he took the plunge and opened The Haberdashery, first on Corydon Avenue, and now at 84 Albert Street in the Exchange where it’s been flourishing for the last nine years.

Filled with all the latest headwear fashions, some classic looks, a wide assortment of socks, ties, scarves, sunglasses, and more, the Haberdashery aims to complete your look one accessory at a time.

“Sometimes people will come in and they’re going to a wedding and they have a suit and they need a tie,” Nolan says from behind the counter. “We can customize a hat with feathers or anything to fit their outfit.”

Speaking of weddings (and bachelor/bachelorette parties), Nolan is quick to mention that The Haberdashery now sells Nicaraguan and Honduran cigars.  

“The shop has a lot of vintage pictures and displays, and all that stuff is for sale too, but the main thing is hats,” he says. “I do have a small vintage section of hats, but mostly everything here is new and it’s all Canadian.”

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Despite being new, the hats have a timeless look and feel to them.

“We definitely have an old school feel, but old school is coming back, it usually does,” he says. “There’s nothing real fresh out there as far as new inventions for hats.”

When you walk into the shop, the pop culture presence is all over the place, from classic concert posters to Andy Warhol prints, soundtracked by an incredible music collection.

“Here at the shop we only do vinyl and 8-tracks,” Nolan says. “I’m definitely more of a rock guy but I like it all. The only thing I don’t dig is country. I love anything from the ‘70s and ‘80s, the ‘60s stuff is good too. As far as records go, I’ve got everything and it’s all on sale.”

While part of his personal record collection lives behind the counter, Nolan notes that he’s selling off a collection of 8,000 LPs, recently purchased from a local collector. It’s in these record bins that you’ll find classic early pressings of Bowie, Dylan, and The Beatles all for a reasonable price.  Mostly though, Nolan is just happy to be able to be able to listen to records all day at work.

“I take requests,” he says with a laugh. “If someone’s hat shopping I’ll ask what they want and I can usually deliver.”

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Not only is Nolan making friends with the customers (including such famous hat-enthusiasts as Jimmy Vaughan from The Fabulous Thunderbirds and members of Blue Rodeo), but he’s also gotten to know his neighbours over the last decade, and is keen to give a shout-out to the community.

“A lot of people in the neighbourhood really know each other, there’s a cool community aspect to things, it feels like we all know each other by first names,” he says. “We have conversations about how we can make things better in the community. It’s been really good, especially in the last couple years, it’s grown well.”

Visit haberdashery.ca for more information.