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Billings hat maker seeing 'Yellowstone' effect

Rands Hats
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BILLINGS - Rand’s Custom Hats have been a part of the Billings community since 1973, but lately they have seen an uptick in business because of the hit television series "Yellowstone."

Store owner Brad Tilden knows how much trends can affect his business. Fortunately, right now, cowboy hats are in high demand because of the fictional TV show set in Montana.

“They’ll come in and say, 'I want to look like Kevin Costner,' or whatever it is and we’ll build them a hat that looks like that,” Tilden said.

Rand’s Custom Hats owner Brad Tilden

But here in Billings, Rand’s Hats isn’t just selling the usual hats. They make unique, custom hats that fit perfectly with the customers’ head right inside their building.

Hat makers start by measuring the shape and size of the customer’s head. Once the shape of the hat has been established, they will sand the hat down or even light it on fire to get rid of any extra threads.

Eventually, the hat gets handed over to stitching where the perfectly fitted sweatband is sewn into the inside of the hat. Once more, the hat is steamed so that the hat maker can add any curves and definition to the crown and brim.

“When we build your hat, we use those devices to get it so that it’s tailored to your head,” Tilden said.

It’s a complicated process and customization is expensive. Rand’s Hats can cost anywhere from $600 to $2,500, and most who walk through these doors are willing to pay for something unique.

Thad Lamey has worked as a hat maker for about five years. He has noticed the massive difference in the popularity of the business, and he credits a lot of that to the hit TV show.

Thad Lamey

“In the last year or so, with the Yellowstone influence, as we call it, it’s been huge. The number of orders and just the involvement and interest has been phenomenal,” Lamey said.

Lamey insists that the wait and price is worth it. Rand’s Hats is a unique business that is special to Montana.

“It’s something that you don’t find anywhere. Getting a custom hat is not cheap, but it’s well worth it because the hat you’re going to get, if you take care of it it’ll last you forever,” Lamey said.

For Lamey, there is no greater feeling than handing the finished product to a happy customer.

“And he puts the hat on and the hat fits perfectly and it’s exactly the way he loves it and you can just see it in his eyes. There’s that sparkle in their eyes and smile on their face and that’s really rewarding,” Lamey said.

First Look: Billings hat maker seeing 'Yellowstone' effect