The History of Greeley Hat Works

A staple in local, regional, national, and international communities, Greeley Hat Works provides the best quality and customer service when it comes to hat making. Since 1909, Greeley Hat Works has forged a rich history through its fine hatting and commitment to its customers. A staple in local, regional, national, and international communities, Greeley Hat Works provides not only a service but an outlet of personal expression for anyone interested in wearing a hat.

As history changes, so does Greeley Hat Works. Originally named The Shining Parlor, the hat shop serviced hats. When the business grew to include several locations, The Shining Parlor become Greeley Hat Shop and continued to grow until the 1970s when clientele and interest in fine hats began to change. (Thanks, JFK.) When current owner Trent Johnson took over ownership in the 1990s, the name changed again to Greeley Hat Works and the business took great leaps in growth.

From the day that Trent bought Greeley Hat Works to this day, his work and the name of the shop have only become more prolific and well-known. Over the years that Trent has owned the company, he made it his mission to provide excellent hats for the everyman. In addition to local ranchers, cowboys, and their families, Trent has made hats for people all over the world. In 2002, Trent had the great opportunity and privilege to make a hat for President George W. Bush and presented it to him at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). 

Some Things Change, and Some Things Don’t

There are very few things that have changed about Greeley Hat Works since 1909, other than owners. The same tools, what Trent calls “retro-tech,” are still used in the shop today, including the most important tool: the conformateur, a head-measuring machine patented in 1843 by a Parisian-based hat maker Allie Maillard. This device is where it all starts at Greeley Hat Works, then and today. 

You can find Greeley Hat Works in publications like Esquire, Cowboys and Indians, 360 West, American Cowboy, and many more. You will also be able to spot Greeley Hat Works custom hats on television sets like Yellowstone and in movies like Wind River

Greeley Hat Works: A Timeline

1909 – Originally called The Shining Parlor, the company was founded by two Greek brothers in Greeley, Colorado.

1920 – George Brown bought the company and moved it to a permanent location on 8th Avenue. Shortly after purchasing, he brought in the Martinez brothers as business partners.

1928 – The shop was remodeled and renamed to Greeley Hat Shop & Shining Parlor. Simultaneously, the company expanded into Fort Collins.

1935 – Brown sold his portion of the company to the Martinez brothers. The company began selling its custom-built hats at local clothing stores in addition to the shop.

1960 – The Martinez family changed its name to Martin. Subsequently, Abel Martin passed away and Ben Martin took sole ownership and shortened the name to Greeley Hat Shop.

1970 – The hat industry started to change as did the company’s clientele. The hat styles went from fashion-inspired to everyday functioning.

1980 – The shop was relocated to 1208 9th Street as downtown Greeley starting to burgeon. Shortly after, Martin sold the shop to Norman Peterson who restructured the company as a hat cleaning and shaping company.

1983 – Jim Walsh purchased the shop from Peterson, moved the shop to 11th Avenue, and started incorporating western clothing. 

1985 – Susie Orr purchased the shop from Walsh and learned hatmaking from Ben Martin. She revitalized the original structure of the business and Greeley Hat Shop started creating and designing custom hats once again. She closed the storefront and moved hatmaking to her family ranch. 

1993 – Trent Johnson started as an apprentice for Orr. Two years later, Johnson convinced her to reopen a shop in downtown Greeley at 826 9th Street Plaza.

1996 – Johnson purchased the shop from Orr. He renamed it Greeley Hat Works with the intention to uphold the legacy of his predecessors. 

Madison Cleo

Hello! I'm Madison Cleo, Digital Director here at Greeley Hat Works. As a Digital Director, I have the pleasure of updating the website, writing blog posts, handling social media, and anything and everything involving hats and the internet!

12 Comments

  1. Bob Dunfee on February 18, 2021 at 8:13 am

    Great history lesson! Trent is an awesome owner!! Met him several times in Ft Worth, TX. Love my custom grey hat he made for me.

    • Ciara on February 19, 2021 at 3:37 pm

      This makes all of us at Greeley hat Works really excited to hear, especially Trent! Trent’s sole mission is to encapsulate individuality and personality through his hat creations for his clientele. Trent is always hanging out in Texas, so feel free to check out his tour schedule here. Take care, and enjoy your custom grey hat!

  2. Bob Walber on February 18, 2021 at 8:28 am

    The best hat I’ve ever owned. Had hats made at the Hatatorium in San Angelo Tx in the 1960’s and 70’s. Then went to the land of the unshod pony and Rich Rand made my hats. Trent your off the shelf hat beats them all.

    • Ciara on February 19, 2021 at 3:29 pm

      Hi Bob! We really appreciate the honesty and dedication to our brand. Greeley hat Works has been around since 1909 for a reason. Every single hat is made by hand through every detail, stitch and trim created. They endure quite a bit and never disappoint! Thank you for your kind words.

  3. terrell armstrong on February 18, 2021 at 10:00 am

    great history lesson. had a chance to vist greely hat shop a few years ago and meet trent. very impressed with both. also found out that trent is best friends with stephen h. (owner of stages west) a friend of mine. small world

    • Ciara on February 18, 2021 at 12:38 pm

      Hi Terrell! Very small world! We’re so happy you were able to stop by Greeley hat Works and meet Trent. Trent and Stephen are very good friends indeed and he visits Stephen quite frequently for Trunk Shows every year! Follow along with our upcoming tour dates to see when Trent will be in your area.

  4. Richard M Bryson on February 20, 2021 at 6:01 pm

    Small world, I stepped into Greeley Hat Works three years ago and bought a dynamite custom hat from KC. Six weeks to make the hat but it was well worth it. KC made sure I was completely satisfied with purchase. I stated small world because my wife was a teacher in Pueblo and knew Trent’s father. Good to see him be so successful as a world renown hat maker!!

    • Ciara on February 27, 2021 at 8:28 am

      A very small world, indeed! Trent always arrives to Greeley Hat Works with the biggest smile on his face. He truly loves helping people discover their one of a kind hat!

  5. Scott Sheldomn Schmidt on February 22, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    Love Greeley Hat Works!
    Great hats and service! Thanks Tim!

    • Ciara on February 26, 2021 at 4:07 pm

      Hi Scott! I will pass along the message. We are so happy you enjoy our brand and service!

  6. Leslie M.Sorensen and Richard Sorensen on February 23, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    Hats made at Greeley Hat Works become part of your estate and the family fights over them. We bought a hat for our daughter Becky as her Christmas present. She and that Hat are 2 of the most beautiful things ever put together!

    • Ciara on February 27, 2021 at 8:24 am

      That is pretty funny! Just like what our Hatters say here, “Each hat is a reflection of you.”

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