George “Stormy” Kromer was a Wisconsin railroad engineer and semi-pro baseball player who complained to his wife, Ida, that he was tired of losing his baseball-style cap to the winter wind while working on the train. So he asked if she could sew some flaps on an old baseball cap to keep it snug. It worked so well that a business was soon born. And now, more than a century later, it is still legendary for comfort and fit.
Now made by Jacquart Fabric Products in Ironwood, Michigan – and only in Ironwood, Michigan. Free tours start at 1:30 p.m. each weekday. You’ll see the hats being sewn, one at a time, by factory seamstresses.
The Stormy Kromer has been an Up North staple for years – and not just with old codgers who go ice fishing (think Walter Matthau’s character in “Grumpy Old Men”). The hat has taken on a sort of cult status and is popular in all kinds of places, even where there’s never snow. Just look around airports the next time you travel. You’ll find them on celebrities in the world of movies and music and sports, and on ordinary folks. On both men and women, and on kids. The Stormy Kromer line has grown from the red plaid to other plaids and solids – plain gray is the No. 1 seller – in a variety of hat styles and fabrics.
Plan to include browsing time in the factory store after the tour. If hats aren’t your thing, look at all those other items. Lots of other items. T-shirts, vests, coats, mittens, blankets, tablet covers. Hats specially designed for pets with holes for their ears. There’s even Stormy Kromer coffee to drink from a Stormy Kromer mug.
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