SAN FRANCISCO — Perched on a stool in her hat shop, Ruth Garland-Dewson, a vision in purple pants, colorful tunic, clanking baubles and fuchsia lipstick, is enthralled with the recent change in City Hall.
"Honey, you have no idea what Willie Brown has done for my business," she gushed. "I have had people from all over the [San Francisco] Bay Area calling to ask for the 'Willie hat.' "
Unfortunately, she added, "they usually don't want to pay the Willie price."
Before the inauguration, the stylish mayor-elect bought three Borsalino fedoras--in blue, black and gray--for about $450 each from Garland-Dewson's shop, Mrs. Dewson's Hats.
For the inauguration Monday, Brown wore a fedora given to him by Borsalino, an Italian company. But for the Pier 45 bash that night, the new mayor wore one of his purchases from Garland-Dewson's shop--the blue snap-brim fedora.
Impatient, pushy and affable--all traits she acknowledges--Garland-Dewson is out to put a hat on every head.
Brown's championship of hats apparently has spurred sales at other area hat stores.
"Since Brown took office, sales have definitely increased," said Rusty Watson, co-owner of the Hat Guys in Oakland. "We have people come in saying they want the same type of hat Willie wears."
Sheryl Krajewski, owner of Hats on Post in San Francisco, said Brown "has brought glamour to the city. I expect hat sales to pick up as a result of him."
Garland-Dewson keeps about 500 hats in stock. Until Brown took office, she said, 85% of her hats were sold to women. Now, she said, "I have so many men shopping for hats that I may have to drastically change my inventory."