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Hats off to Hamblen Hats

A Western-themed Grand Opening celebration/“Thank You” party, held 16 months into a pandemic, officially opened the doors of Hamblen Hats in Ault, Colo.

Owner Travis Hamblen had been looking forward to the exciting event for several years. So the COVID-era timing wasn’t daunting… it was perfect timing. Why? A good foundation, a solid base.

Boots being a cowboy’s base, you might say that Hamblen quickly made his way to the top when “Irvine’s,” Canada’s largest Western store, hired him as a hat shaper in 2015.



He traveled back and forth to the maple leaf land, devoting 10-12 hours each workday contouring hats to awaiting owners’ heads. That flexible schedule worked well for the single father of two sons with 50/50 shared custody of his boys.

Every living human being has a head. A singularly individual head, each with a face that observes the world in its own distinctive way. How better to shield all these uncommon noggins from the elements than with uniquely personalized hats?



So, after spending nearly five years polishing someone else’s nickel, Hamblen decided to try his own venture. Hats, of course. Perhaps having spent much of his previous career life distance traveling from home to work — including to our neighboring country up north — Hamblen felt drawn back to the road.

In January 2020, he opened Hamblen Hats Mobile Hat Lounge, a self-contained long trailer filled with various equipment to custom design, fit, shape and re-craft (primarily Western) hats, and from which to sell American Hat Company products.

The shop on wheels frequented Western events where Hamblen cleaned and re-shaped attendees’ hats. Those satisfied customers often then sent him other well-worn ones to spruce up or even transform into new, eye-catching creations.

GROWING BUSINESS

As business flourished throughout 2020, Hamblen sought a home-base from which he could better market his own brand. He opened a little shop in the pole barn behind his parents’ Fort Collins, Colo., home in autumn 2020. That setup worked well but quickly outgrew its modest space. Hamblen needed a larger yet still northern Colorado retail location that would be especially convenient for local clientele.

In early June 2021, Hamblen found “IT.” The Ault property ticked off every box on his wish list. Plus, it had ample and easy parking access where even a horse/livestock trailer could fit easy-peasy.

The roomy building located at 206 2nd Street, behind a town gun shop and on the next street north of Ault’s popular Pizza Plus, has historical significance. It previously housed a mid-century Chevrolet dealership in the 1950s and ’60s. Some locals might also remember that the L-shaped structure served as Dr. Getch’s Highland Veterinary Clinic from the 1990s into the early 2000s.

Just some of Hamblen Hats’ inventory graces its walls. Courtesy photo

Quickly snapping up the property of his dreams, Hamblen signed a long-term lease, then set to work readying the vintage charmer for business. After eagerly planning its big opening event, he sent out social media invitations.

RSVP “Yes!” responses immediately poured in for the July 2-3, 2021 festivities.

Its owner/founder explained, “Hamblen Hats had grown so much in the past two years that I really wanted to thank customers, family and friends for their overwhelming support.”

HATS, HATS, HATS!

Among those folks Hamblen greatly appreciates is National Finals Rodeo Announcer Andy Seiler. Sporting his Hamblen custom hat, he also covers other stellar events including Cervi Championship Rodeo Company’s Estes Park and Yuma rodeos.

Nationwide customers include some in the “Lone Star” state. Hamblen re-designed vintage hats for James Young of The Eli Young Band, a troupe of musicians from deep in the heart of Texas.

Also within the past year, Denver Broncos player #66, Offensive Guard Dalton Risner, was presented with a custom Hamblen hat.

Native to Wiggins, Colo., the pro-footballer grew up farming and ranching. Risner’s elementary school teacher, Regan Wilson, also ranches and ropes. She asked if the Bronco would speak to young members of the Colorado Junior Rodeo Association. He graciously accepted her invitation.

Wilson, a good friend of Hamblen’s, wanted to honor Risner with a special reward for his generosity of time with the kids.

Commented Hamblen, “For an athlete to relate on their level is awesome!”

So the CJRA, Wilson and Hamblen all chipped in to build Risner’s custom hat.

CUSTOMER APPRECIATION NIGHT

Hamblen said that between 300-400 people, aficionados from Colorado to as distant as the Tucson, Ariz. area, attended his new shop’s celebratory appreciation night. Men and women, both new and repeat customers, came from diverse professions including stock contractors, members of cattle industry occupations, and pickup men from the Greeley Stampede Rodeo. All share Hamblen’s lifelong passion for the Western/cowboy way of life.

What did Hamblen’s customer appreciation include? Well, Kenny Feidler of The Cowboy Killers highlighted the event with a delightful 2-hour acoustic show on Friday night.

As Feidler entertained, silversmith Nick Cunningham of Bad Bronc Studios in Santa Fe, N.M. displayed his beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces that include belt buckles, rings and pendants.

Travis Hamblen welcomes Richard and Becci McPherson (holding "Snickers") to Hamblen Hat's July 2-3 Grand Opening. The couple plus little Snickers made the long trip from Rio Rico, Ariz., to pick up a custom hat they'd ordered. Photo courtesy Travis Hamblen

And the crowd certainly enjoyed a complimentary BBQ dinner, sweetly topped off by “Cowboy Crunch” dessert from M&M Creamery in Greeley.

“At the end of the day,” Hamblen declared, “everyday cowboy people are my people.”

He intends to keep special events coming for the remainder of 2021 with his hopes high for the ongoing success of Hamblen Hats.

To contact Travis Hamblen at Hamblen Hats, call (970) 324-0014 or visit his website at http://www.hamblenhats.com.


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