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Jamaica Plain hat shop Salmagundi helps customers find the perfect fit

5/22/2013, 8:11 a.m.

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Salmagundi

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Salmagundi owners Andria Rapagnola and Jessen Fitzpatrick say they cater to “trend setters” and “independent thinkers.” (Tiffany Probasco photos)

Salmagundi sits unobtrusively, on buzzing Centre Street in Jamaica Plain. For its growing and loyal fan base, it’s the place to get a hat.

Established in 2006 by husband and wife team Jessen Fitzpatrick and Andria Rapagnola, the shop for ladies and gents claims to carry the most diverse and largest inventory of hats in the northern U.S. The two started selling hats as street vendors, hitting jazz festivals toting 400 hats in a truck. Now, with an inventory of around 9,000 hats, they have proved to be not only the engine that could, but the engine that does.

Last year, the pair was honored by the 105-year-old Headwear Association with its Retailer of the Year Award — think the Academy Awards for hatters. It’s an award only given once in a hat retailer’s lifetime, and Salmagundi is one of only 12 hatters in business under 40 years that has recieved the honor.

Fitzpatrick says, “Finding a hat is like dating. You have to have a good selection. You have to try it on, try it out to see if it’s the right fit — and you’ll know. And sometimes it’s nice to have a friend with you to make sure you’re doing the right thing.”  

The Décor:

The shop’s striking décor is a mix of a high-end bar and an antique store. There’s no mistaking that this is a hat shop, though, as around 3,000 hats are strewn about the shop in different sizes, shapes and colors. Men’s styles are mixed with women’s, while dresses are tucked in with accessories and appropriate hat pairings. Popular page boy hats are kept behind the bar (checkout counter) where a hatter will serve them up to make sure customers have the perfect fit. The staging quality can be attributed to Rapagnola, who graduated with a design degree and honed her skills working with notables like Oscar de la Renta.

The store’s feel-good music soundtrack goes perfectly with the hat themes and reflects the tastes of Fitzpatrick and Rapagnola’s clientele.

Hat Styles

With an inventory of over 9,000 hats in stock and a price point of $30 - $500, it’s hard to know where to begin with the styles of hats they carry. What you won’t find here are baseball caps or any sport-themed hats. They cater to their “characters,” as they affectionately call them, who come from varied backgrounds.

When purchasing hats, they look for the unusual, staying in tune with their trendy clientele, and shy away from purchasing from vendors who say “This is hot.”

“It’s not that we’re setting trends,” says Fitzpatrick. “It’s the people that are coming here. It’s independent thinkers … it’s people who are comfortable with themselves. We cater to the trend setters.”

Though they wouldn’t disclose names, they do have their fair share of celebrity clients. “We get a lot of ball players [who] come here, we get a lot of movie folk, actors, a lot of musicians, but we have an old school way about us. When you come in here, you’re going to feel just as famous as anybody,” says Fitzpatrick.