Hats are sold for many reasons and are supplied from different types of shops. If you sell hats yourself or are involved in any part of the process of hat sales please take some time to read this chapter. It is of particular importance that it is read by those staff that have front-line contact with the most important part of any retail organization, the customer.

Although it is not a requirement to know anything about a product to be able to sell it, the more knowledge that sales staff have, the more they will be able to give good information about the product and offer advice if requested. The knowledge and interest of sales staff is a direct reflection of the retail outlet, and although many sales people have an in depth knowledge of clothes, hats are a product with which they are far less familiar.

Whether the policy of the shop is a casual or disciplined approach to its customers, common courtesy is a pre-requisite. Many customers will want to try on hats without help or advice and will perhaps try many styles without purchasing, returning some days later after they have thought about it or to bring a partner with them for a second opinion, this is a common occurrence with mid to expensive purchases, many customers are far less confident when purchasing a hat than they would be with clothes.

Sales staff should try on hats themselves to see what sort of hat suits them. They should compare what looks good or bad on different people, although there are a couple of hat “rules” dictating what hat looks best on what shape face the wearer has, or how tall or short they are. I would advise a customer to try on all of the hats they like the look of and find one that suits the occasion, but the most important thing of all, is to find a hat that the customer will feel relaxed about wearing.

Sales staff should offer to model a hat for a customer (as long as that member of staff looks good in hats and is confident to do so) especially if the customer is alone. This will allow the hat to “come alive” let the customer see it from a different perspective.

The idea of putting a hat on a head really does give a hat life, not all designs have “shelf appeal,” particularly cloth or soft hats, so encourage staff and customers to try hats on.

Ladies hats are usually made to one size (22.5 inches / 57.15 cm), but it is possible to adjust the hat to size using the following methods. To make a hat larger, place the hat over a heated hat stretcher, if available. The other method takes much longer. Remove the sewn in headband completely, then use steam to soften the straw or felt. Work the hat gently by hand until the hat fits, finally hand sew the headband back into position. To make a hat fit a smaller head is easier, take small tucks in the headband ribbon or sew a second ribbon (usually velvet) inside the original headband, as an alternative to making the hat smaller, use a hatpin, hat elastic around the back of the head or even hairgrip a large hat into position, especially when worn with the hair up.

Never rush a potential hat customer and always be honest without being unkind, if a hat really does not suit them, try to guide your valuable customer to a design that does.