After reading an article on a new location for Optimo Hats on page 26 of the September 2012 issue of Afar, we decided to visit Optimo ourselves. We chose to go to the original location in South Chicago, which is 20 minutes south of downtown. Graham Thompson, the owner, was there to explain exactly how to choose, wear, and care for a hat. He is most knowledgeable and friendly. He's been in the business over 20 years and his passion is demonstrable, as is his expertise. Even if you went there just to learn about hats rather than buy one, it is an experience worth the drive. Yes, we could have gone to the new store downtown, but why not experience the history of the original store? Besides, Graham was at the South Chicago store, and not to be missed.
It would be fun to go with him on a straw-buying trip to Ecuador.
This photo is what you see as soon as you enter the store. Notice the hat molds that are many decades old. Had it not been for Afar, first seen by my alert wife, we wouldn't have thought to have had this travel experience.