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[A Hat in Time]Hidden Cincinnati: Batsakes Hat Shop, a Cincinnati fixture for 114 years

2021-07-08

  CINCINNATI — Eighty-nine-year-old Gus Miller doesn’t advertise. He’s not on the internet. His downtown business, Batsakes Hat Shop, has been in business downtown since 1907, and he’s confident he can keep running it until he’s 100.

  “I’m 89 years,” he said. “Eleven more is going to be easy.”

  Miller is one of a kind. So is his store, which may be one of only a few traditional custom hat shops still in existence. The product is handmade by Miller, who uses tools older than himself to create and maintain his hats.

  It’s a family business, he explained. Miller’s relatives — Greek immigrants whose last name was pronounced “Bat-sah-kees” — opened the shop at a time when Theodore Roosevelt was president and the country comprised only 46 states.

  Miller migrated from Greece to the United States as a young man in 1951 to help his cousin, Pete Batsakes, with the shop.

  Decades later, he still works six days a week. Batsakes is only closed on Sundays.

  “I don’t know how the last 70 years I do this work,” he said. “I can’t believe it.”

  In that time, he’s curated a collection of celebrity clients and a set of strong beliefs about the importance of traditional businesses like his own.

  Batsakes has depended on people shopping local for more than 100 years. Miller thinks it’s just the right thing to do.

  “Pay a little bit more,” he said. “You keep money in the city, you help the city.”