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Jacquart Fabric Products

Winter Hats

The truth behind the legend of Stormy Kromer: When they say “cold as heck,” they’re talking about the birthplace of the Stormy Kromer cap – Kaukauna, WI. It was here, in 1903, that George “Stormy” Kromer finally lost his cool, and his hat. He was an engineer on the steam locomotive lines that crisscrossed the frozen prairies. In order to see where he was steering those steamers, he had to stick his head out the window. Now, you can darn near feel the wind just thinking about it. That wind stole Mr. Kromer’s baseball caps—one by one—off into the icy dark. It didn’t take long for Mr. Kromer’s stormy temper to flare up, but even that wasn’t enough to keep his ears warm.

Soon enough he asked his wife, Ida, to sew some flaps on the last of his caps—the one he wore through several successful seasons in the minor leagues. Just a few tries with a needle and the original “Blizzard” cap was born. It was odd-looking headgear for the times—six woolen panels stitched into a beanie shape, a low-angled brim to keep the wind from achieving lift, and, of course, those slide-down flaps that kept the hat in place and ears toasty. It was no fedora, that’s for sure, and maybe that’s why so many of Mr. Kromer’s fellow engineers wanted one.

After ordering—and selling—1,200 caps out of a factory in Milwaukee, the Kromers decided to set up their own shop in Kaukauna. That “shop” consisted of a run-down brick building and three women—a few more when orders jumped in the fall. By 1918, the ladies could no longer keep up with the desire for Kromer caps, and Stormy Kromer Mercantile moved back to the big city. Mr. Kromer ran the business himself until the 1960s, expanding it more than a few times, and when his health began to fail, he passed the hat, if you will, to the next generation.

Well, the next generation took care of things for a good long while, until roundabout 2001 when word got around that production would cease on the legendary Stormy Kromer cap. Bob Jacquart got wind of that news by way of Mark Fitting, owner of the Hobby Wheel, an Ironwood, MI. based bike and ski shop. Bob had a mind to give a call to the folks down in Milwaukee and see if he couldn’t make Stormy Kromer part of his company, Jacquart Fabric Products. A month later, Bob was the proud new owner of Stormy Kromer, and Ironwood officially became the home of the legendary cap that it had always struck a certain sentimental claim to. You see, folks in Ironwood and the rest of the U.P. have been wearing Stormy Kromer caps for generations, and it seems this has always been the hat’s true home –  where the North Wind blows cold and the snow falls harder than almost anywhere else. Today, residents of the Gogebic-Iron Range sew Stormy Kromer Caps at Jacquart Fabric Products in Ironwood.

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