Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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December 6, 2013

A tip of the hat: Atwood presentation given at Kiwanis Club luncheon

JACKSONVILLE — The Atwood Hat Company tends to command a lot of respect. It's influence extends from the local home base in Frankston to as far away as Russia, Israel, France, England, Australia, Germany and beyond.

"I would say we have pretty much defined the market for awhile," Sharon Atwood explained Thursday during a presentation to members of Jacksonville Kiwanis Club at Lupe's Mexican Restaurant, 517 E. Rusk Street.

Even Country Western stars such as Willie Nelson tend to agree that Atwood is the standard.  Nelson wore an Atwood Hat from Frankston as he received the lifetime achievement award at the Country Music Association in Nashville on Nov. 1. 2012.

Sharon Atwood said Thursday the origins of this  unique hat company begin with her husband, Dick Atwood, who was constantly in search of a hat that could last as long as he did performing his usual arduous work tasks — and still look nice enough to wear once the workday ended.

So, in 1987, Dick Atwood ventured to Mexico and bought a palm leaf hat.

He had no idea at the time the events that this purchase would set in motion.

Once home, he soon realized the hat was holding up as well as he had hoped as he worked the hay fields and in the branding pens.

During her presentation, Sharon Atwood held up two palm leaf hats to Kiwanis members — the faded one her husband had worn all those years  and a brand new hat that was sparkling white.

The faded palm leaf hat had maintained its shape for the most part.

"This is the hat he ended up wearing," she said, indicating the

faded hat.

"He would go into Frankston three times a day to the coffee shop there —  to what he calls 'The Knowledge Table'  — where he could drink coffee and discuss the world.”

Dick Atwood's coffee shop friends noticed he had been wearing the same hat for quite awhile and it had not come apart like many of his others.

"They said to him, 'Hey, man, next time you go get me one of those hats you've had all these years,' " Sharon Atwood said.

So Dick Atwood retired from the family propane business and went back to Mexico to do just that. He was 62 at the time.

Coming back to the states with a variety of hats, he effectively created a small business so he could sell to people he knew.

He set up shop on his ranch in a 2-by-16-foot portable building.

A month later, he realized he had outgrown this space. So he moved the business to a bigger space in Frankston.

Three months after that, growth and sales forced him again to move to a bigger area. Ultimately, it took three buildings to store all his inventory.

About 2001, yet another  expansion resulted in his public sale of a shantung straw hat created in China.

Business kept getting better and better.

These days, the hat company has relocated back at the ranch in a 12,000 square-foot warehouse and office

complex.

But the business and its legend continues to grow.

Atwood hats continue to stay the standard. They are commonly referred to  as "the hat that cowboys wear."

"The Atwood name isn’t put on any hat unless it passes a stringent inspection," reads one advertisement.

"That way, you can be sure that you're getting the very best quality cowboy hat on Earth."

Atwood's customers are incredible

enthusiastic:

• "I absolutely LOVE it," Tia Baker proclaimed on the Atwood Hats Facebook page.

• "Best hat ever!" said Kody Carlton, also on FB.

• "Last week I was at Del Rio Feed and Supply and bought my sixth Atwood hat — a Swenson 4 1/2 inch brim," enthused FB poster David Johnson.

• "I wouldn't have gotten married in anything other then my Atwood Hat," Joe McLane also said on FB.

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