My hat. And the future of retail

johnboy 3 October 2013 34

bowler hat

Bear with me here. A huge chunk of Canberra’s economy turns on this hat.

Recently I was in the market for a hat. Fedoras had served me well in recent years but a man needs a bit of variety and really, if you can pick one up in Target how cool can it be? (Nerf guns excepted)

And so inspired a recent(ish) Cracked article on how bowler hats were the real hat of choice for cowboys I decided gentleman cowboy could work for me.

So where to go to get one? Perhaps Canberra’s home of fashion at the Canberra Centre?

Sadly the hat shop has gone, even from its upstairs relocation. David Jones was boarded up at the top floor, what I really needed was a search function for the Canberra Centre down to inventory level.

A light went off in my head and I went home.

I punched “bowler hats” into google and in five minutes time I was on Hatworld where for $50 a hat was in the mail arriving two working days later.

It helps that I know my hat size. And it helps that the item I was after was very specific, albeit unusual.

It’s a very fine hat (silk lining, leather inner band, feather) and you can tune into tomorrow’s RiotWrap to see how it’s going.

But with so many people pouring their life savings into mall franchises, and so many young Canberrans relying on retail jobs we might want to think how retail of the future is actually going to look.

No-one’s going to buy an unfamiliar perfume online. But once you know what you like one bottle of Chanel No 5 is much like another.

So an occasional perfume fair at the showground for introductions followed by online sales is surely going to work better in the long run than stock being lugged around the country and locked in glass boxes by surly teens?

With clothes you have to wonder if the tailor is about to make a return.

Someone who has your measurements on file, knows the online retailers backwards, can order stock in for you from anywhere AND alter it as needed AND ideally give you some advice.

(I would pay a serious premium for this service, to some extent I do when I go to John Hanna but the model just needs a few tweaks).

What won’t we buy online?

Fresh food to some extent, hardware to some extent, anything with prohibitive postage?

What am I missing here?

Advice is something that will get us through the door, but current retail models offer us generally terrible service.

On a whim the other day I stopped into EB Games to buy Diablo 3 instead of downloading it.

There was one guy on the desk, there was a queue, it took 15 minutes to give them my money.

So buying console games in the store is right now harder than buying it through the console, from my own home.

Majura Park with its big boxes and vast parking still gets a lot of my business, but the right online retailer could wipe that out in a second, the dog food I buy out there I could in theory order from anywhere.

Is the only low level job of the future going to be in parcel delivery?

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34 Responses to My hat. And the future of retail
Blathnat Blathnat 1:24 am 05 Oct 13

Hat-wearing Hipsters of Canberra rejoice! What a fine choice of garment to place upon one’s head.

As far as retail shopping goes, I have no problems with internet shopping. There are still certain things I will ALWAYS buy from a store, such as most of my clothing, shoes, food. It seems however that the ones crying foul are those who work for large companies, that some time ago held a much larger portion of our shopping attention. David Jones is one of the biggest culprits.

However – What it comes down to these days, is convenience and customer service. People are busier than ever, and as a result don’t want to spend whole days wandering around a department store, especially since with all of 30 minutes research (this is a generous time limit) you can get multiple prices, reviews and technical specs. Compare this to having to go in to a store, wait to be served, then get frustrated that this person seems incapable of telling you anything about it that isn’t in the brochure.
Add to that the dismal customer service that seems to be the norm these days (self-service checkouts, waiting 15-30 minutes for a staff member to acknowledge your existence etc) and it is no wonder people are going online.

Time was when people would enjoy shopping somewhere like David Jones, because it delivered high service quality, product knowledge and high-quality merchandise. These days it is entirely possible to stand there (speaking from personal experience in Myer/JB) directly in front of the product and look intensely at the item, while several staff members look at you and continue stacking shelves. When you finally do get their attention (which is apparently our job, not theirs) they are incapable of answering any questions regarding the product, nor do they convince you as to WHY you should buy the product in the first place, or buy it over some other product.
Sorry, but I can get that information and product whilst sitting on my copious de-panted backside with beer in hand. Convince me that it’s worth my time to come into your store…

BimboGeek BimboGeek 11:04 am 04 Oct 13

LOL at all the people defending beards. Do you have your beard tax tokens?

Yeah after taking another look at John’s facebook profile I think the problem is that his beard’s a bit patchy. Makes it look unkempt. Garibaldi would have been disappointed!

poetix poetix 10:25 am 04 Oct 13

Well, jumping up and down on a pogo stick with a beard and bowler is a tad silly…

neanderthalsis neanderthalsis 9:28 am 04 Oct 13

caf said :

BimboGeek said :

It’s hard to look like a gentleman when your cheeks and chin say “West Victorian survivalist.”

There was a time when a thick beard was the very mark of a gentleman.

Indeed the history of Australian federation is a history of great men with great beards. While I don’t choose to wear a beard (preferring instead a large waxed moustache) I do believe that the pogonophiles amongst us are unfairly discriminated against.

Madam Cholet Madam Cholet 7:35 am 04 Oct 13

When I was about 14 or 15 I had a yen for a bowler hat. One afternoon my parents went out to look at antiques shops (this is in the UK) and jokingly asked me if I wanted anything. I asked for a bowler hat. Funny thing is they promptly returned with one, which I still have. It is an antique, made in London by hatters to the Queen. Bit more dishevelled these days and probably needs a better home than I can give it really, but I am very fond of it. It is a thing to behold, and I can’t get over how every male worth his salt used to wear one. Unfortunately it was always too big for me otherwise I would have made more use of it.

Aeek Aeek 12:35 am 04 Oct 13

BimboGeek said :

So yeah, don’t buy accessories without trying them on.

tho’ consider who’s advice you are taking 🙂

caf caf 11:41 pm 03 Oct 13

BimboGeek said :

It’s hard to look like a gentleman when your cheeks and chin say “West Victorian survivalist.”

There was a time when a thick beard was the very mark of a gentleman.

BimboGeek BimboGeek 9:22 pm 03 Oct 13

The problem with the hat is that it looks terrible with your big terrible beard. It’s hard to look like a gentleman when your cheeks and chin say “West Victorian survivalist.” If you’d had a chance to try it on your mum or girlfriend or Barcham could have told you about this problem. Barcham has a great understanding of how to accessorise a beard.

As it stands, your only option is to shave it off. You might be able to get away with grooming it back to an impeccable Chuck Norris but I don’t think yours is as thick and lustrous as Chuck’s.

So yeah, don’t buy accessories without trying them on.

bigfeet bigfeet 8:29 pm 03 Oct 13

JB…that is a nice hat. A very nice hat.

I wish I was able to wear something similar…or any hat at all..but unfortunately for me I am unable to wear any hat without looking like a total idiot.

God I wish I could, and I envy those of you who can.

But I can’t.

So I say again…Nice hat.

LSWCHP LSWCHP 7:43 pm 03 Oct 13

DrKoresh said :

I had a friend in high school who wore a bowler hat every single day from year 9 through to year 12. Originally it was a cheap cardboard costume variety but he shelled out for nice real one eventually. Apart from him I don’t think I’ve seen them worn ever in the real world.

It’s a better choice then a fedora though, there’s something sad about guys in fedoras.

WTF? I didn’t know that! I own two beat up Fedoras, and I wear them while working in the yard, bushwalking, hunting, fishing, whatever. Out at the Tidbinbilla reserve I walked to Nil Desperandum and back yesterday with a Fedora on my head, and I didn’t know I was sad.

Why are they sad? What have I missed?

Now I’m going to have to go get a f*cking Bowler to wear bushwalking, because I’m sad ferchrissake.

What next? 🙁

LSWCHP LSWCHP 7:31 pm 03 Oct 13

poetix said :

knuckles said :

You should have got a Bollman 1940’s Pork Pie hat.
As worn by Heisenberg

Are you certain about that?

Gold, Mrs P. 🙂

Masquara Masquara 6:39 pm 03 Oct 13

Some of the Chanel boutiques send multiple 4ml samples of their “exclusif” range to serious customers. A 4ml bottle is a substantial sample! I had 8 sent to me only last week.

I believe a lot of the cheaper brands send samples too.

Pork Hunt Pork Hunt 5:43 pm 03 Oct 13

poetix said :

My favourite stores are boutiques, as in Braddon, and op shops. I do quite like the supermarket in the Canberra Centre, but will only zoom into the other shops if I need something specific and easily located. It always seems quite full, but lots of people seem to go there just to eat.

I agree that customer service makes a huge difference; compare L’OCCITANE with one of the Department stores where you could die before being served.

I use the internet for weird funny things. Occasionally I am very bad, ignore global warming caused by planes, and order things like bathers from Poland.

Very nice hat, though I think the correct word is dapper.

The lack of service from Department stores could be used to advantage given the lack lustre performance of the Euthanasia Party at the recent election…

Robertson Robertson 5:33 pm 03 Oct 13

Robertson said :

Robertson said :

6.3% of retail spending is done online.

A reference:

And about 50% of these online sales are from overseas suppliers:

Chop71 Chop71 5:22 pm 03 Oct 13

Canberra Times?

Robertson Robertson 5:16 pm 03 Oct 13

Robertson said :

6.3% of retail spending is done online.

A reference:

Robertson Robertson 5:14 pm 03 Oct 13

The flexibility and choice available via the online world is very attractive, however I heard stats on the radio the other day that said 6.3% of retail spending is done online.
(it is possible this underestimates online spending somewhat due to much of it involving overseas suppliers?)
People still like shopping in a real shop, it seems. Paying above the odds. Queuing. Having to travel to get there. Fighting over parking. It boggles.

Similarly with TV – I find it hard to understand why people park themselves in front of a screen to have (crappy) content and its timing dictated to them by the TV programmer – *surely* it’s better to pick exactly what you want and watch it exactly when you want to?
And yet people still watch TV.

Who was it who was paraphrased as saying, “progress comes one death at a time”?

Deref Deref 4:41 pm 03 Oct 13

🙂 Thanks for the link to Hatworld! I’m in the market for a topper, and they may be the answer. I bought a beautiful bowler recently.

But yeah. Online purchasing is undoubtedly the way of the future, and I’m not sure where its limits are. Lots of people use use the supermarkets’ online shopping service. I’d use that for canned and boxed stuff, but I still like to choose my own fresh food.

poetix poetix 4:28 pm 03 Oct 13

knuckles said :

You should have got a Bollman 1940’s Pork Pie hat.
As worn by Heisenberg

Are you certain about that?

knuckles knuckles 4:10 pm 03 Oct 13

You should have got a Bollman 1940’s Pork Pie hat.
As worn by Heisenberg

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