Hats off to Mickle Macks

by Michael Abbey


Gina Csiffary (right), owner of the newly opened Mickle Macks Haberdashery, with Carson Turnbull Photo: Michael Abbey

Haberdasher: a dealer in men’s clothing and accessories (Canadian Oxford Dictionary)

My curiosity got the best of me on a sunny Saturday when I dropped in to the new haberdashery on Bank Street called Mickle Macks and discovered a bevy of young persons clustered in a very bright, colourful and inviting establishment in the heart of the Glebe. Many a mickle makes a muckle is a Scottish way of saying “a lot of littles make a lot.” The way the Scots speak English, it’s easy to hear “macks” for “makes.” Hence the expression.

The shop was modern yet retro. I was welcomed at the counter by the owner, Gina Csiffary, with a metre-long smile and friendly greeting. I inquired as to when the store opened and was told “today.” Perfect timing. I returned on a Tuesday afternoon and chatted with Csiffary, who hails from Louisiana and now lives in Old Ottawa South. “I was educated in law and am actually a law school dropout. I was in school just about the time of Katrina and moved up to Canada. My boyfriend at that time was Canadian and I worked as a legal assistant at a law firm.” However, hats are part of Csiffary’s upbringing and she spoke about her dad, the epitome of a chapeau-wearing southern gentleman.

Locating in the Glebe was a natural for Mickle Macks for many of the same reasons I hear from all. Csiffary looked at the vacated Kardish’s just south of Fifth Avenue but was drawn to Fifth Avenue Court by the opportunity for a small, inviting atmosphere with a manageable inventory. The dichotomy of the joys and challenges of opening a store has kept her going since the idea of a haberdashery surfaced and she has had great support and assistance putting the place together from a group of friends.

I asked if there was any competition around and she replied, “I don’t think so.” Is she going to have to train the public? She enthusiastically replied, “A lot of people come in and seem a little bit nervous about trying on these hats.” Once they do… many are addicted.

The colours, the brims, the ribbons, the add-ons, the feathers were all a sight to see and the stock has some attractive prices. She offered a twist on a familiar saying: “There’s a person for every hat.” The shelves are filled with fine examples of their inventory, which can meet the needs of both the casual hat wearer and also someone looking for more pizzazz or flare. “The hats that help you get to the car and get to the office are part of our repertoire,” she said, stressing that Mickle Macks also dabbles in chapeaus, fedoras and other exquisite offerings. In additon, the shop carries an assortment of toques for the winter season. Said Csiffary, “I’ll have pompoms and the standard manly toques, to mention a few.”

What caught my attention in the store, besides the decor, were row on row of hats that leapt out at me, beckoning me to “Try me on.” Csiffary has set up an intriguing feather bar where customers can dress up or accent a hat to complement a variety of moods, activities and modes of dress. It reminds me of the Wrigley’s ditty from my childhood, “Two, yes two, two hats in one.”

Csiffary recommends using good old cold, soapy water for most cleaning tasks. She does have some cleaning products that can be used on some but not all her goods.

I had visited Mickle Macks’s website before our coinneachadh (meeting), as one says in Scottish Gaelic. The website has a nice cross-section of their inventory and I was pleased to see Shopify on the site – always a pleasure to support local merchants.

The store is accessible and the entryway is tiled and prepared to handle slushy carriage wheels and salty globs of melting snow in the cold season. Parking for the multi-wheeled carriages at the front of the store is ample. It will be ideal for parents with little ones to hang a quick right into Mickle Macks at any time of year regardless of what else they are schlepping at the time.

Walk-in business is brisk. At the risk of groans – hats off to you, Gina! A visit to Mickle Macks may not only make the haberdasher happier, but you somewhat “dappier.”

Michael Abbey is a retired high-tech professional and bridge enthusiast who writes about business for the Glebe Report. He can be reached at abbey.fenderpbs@gmail.com

Mickle Macks
835 Bank Street

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