Hats off! Shoppers come to rescue of iconic Kraków hat seller

From actors and politicians to tourists and locals, 79-year-old Maria Lipka has been the go-to person for hats since the 1960s. Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

Shoppers have come forward to save an iconic hat seller who has been selling hats in Kraków for over 50 years.

For anyone in Kraków looking for an elegant hat, from actors to tourists, Maria Lipka has been the go-to person for decades.

Maria owns a small shop at 24 Florianska Street, one of the main streets in Kraków’s Old Town. (Earlier, the shop was on Filipa Street.)BabciaMariaodKapeluszy/Facebook

Now 79 years old, she has been selling hats since the 1960s.

Lipka owns a small shop at 24 Florianska Street, one of the main streets in Kraków’s Old Town.

Despite its long history, Lipka’s shop went through a rough period this year in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

A photo of her on the shop’s Facebook page shows her standing in its doorway wearing a beret, shelves filled with hats in a wide range of colours in the background.

Despite its long history, Lipka’s shop went through a rough period this year in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

But following an appeal by Lipka’s granddaughter, kind-hearted locals have now come forward to save the shop by buying hats there, with queues forming outside the shop.BabciaMariaodKapeluszy/Facebook

As Poland and other countries took action to halt the spread of the virus, tourism slowed down and even regular customers stopped coming by.

But following an appeal by Lipka’s granddaughter, kind-hearted locals have now come forward to save the shop by buying hats there, with queues forming outside the shop, where only one customer is allowed in at a time.

Only one customer is allowed into the shop at a time.Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

On the shop’s Facebook page, happy customers have shared photos of themselves wearing their new purchases, praising not just the hats themselves, but also Maria’s attentiveness and energy.

“Maria is the best specialist in her profession ... In addition, she is able to charge one with positive energy to such an extent that she works like the best therapy. You leave her [shop] with a beautiful hat, a broad smile and positive energy. We will definitely come back here,” wrote one woman, who posted a picture of herself wearing a red wide-brimmed hat.

Happy customers have shared photos of themselves wearing their new purchases including Miss Kraków 2020 Karina Masterlerz who posted: “I’ve got one and I recommend it.”Karina Masterlerz/Facebook

Another woman wrote under a different post: “I came for a beret but left with a wide-brimmed hat. It fit at first sight and try-on, it will last for years. I would not have paid any attention to it if not for Maria, who found and selected it for me. Thank you.”

For people who are not based in Kraków, Lipka’s granddaughter has mentioned the possibility of selling the hats online in response to demand from people from further afield.

However, because – as she puts it – “hats are capricious”, she recommends visiting the shop in Kraków in person to find a suitable fit.