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His Hobby Is Restoring, Selling Old Stetsons
Im always looking for old Stetsons. I like to try and bring them back to life, says Keith Betar. The Texas ranch overseer has been around horses and worn hats all his life. He appreciates quality hats like Stetson, Resistol and Serratelli and finds satisfaction in restoring them to like-new condition. And, occasionally he adds embellishments of his own.
Its all done by hand, Betar says, explaining he modified a carpet shampoo steamer and mixes up non-chemical solutions to thoroughly clean the hats. He brushes out dirt and stains with baking soda, vinegar and water. Once cleaned, he shapes the hats. Some hats get new feathers or a leather band, but many look as they did when purchased new.
Betar explained that new Stetsons cost anywhere from $100 to $5,000. The quality rating is scored by Xs on the hats lining - the more Xs the better.
He keeps some of the hats for himself and friends, and he sells others on eBay - often in the $50 to $75 range.
He also buys hats.
I can tell by the lining, the band and tag how old it is, he says. He paid $100 for a hat recently because of its age and quality. Most of the hats he buys come from people in Nevada, Texas and Arizona, but hes purchased hats from many other states as well, based on photos and information sellers provide. After cleaning and shaping them he sells them to buyers all over the U.S., as well as overseas to countries such as Great Britain.
Betars hat-fixing hobby has led to a small side service business. With fewer Mom-and-Pop stores, hat owners have a hard time finding someone to clean and shape their hats. Between shipping and his time, Betar charges about $50 for the service.
But his real passion is bringing old hats back to life for new owners who appreciate them.
I dont want to get real fancy, he explains. I want to get them back where they were to what a horseman or rodeo rider would wear.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Keith Betar, Temecula, Calif. 92592 (ph 951-775-9362; outwestranch@yahoo.com).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #1