Barry Gass sells plenty of different types of hats at Gass Horse Supply, the business he and his family has run on Route 2 in Orono for over 100 years. He’s got belt buckles and bridles and Mane n’ Tail horse shampoo, too. But it’s the Blue Chair brand hats that he’s having a hard time keeping on the shelves these days – those are the ones that Kenny Chesney officially endorses, and the ones that he will most likely be wearing at his sold-out concert on the Bangor Waterfront on Wednesday night.
“We’ve got plenty of hats, sure, but you’d come in right now and say, ‘Where are all the hats?’” said Gass, who took over the store from his father in 2002. “They’ve just been flying off the shelves. People love them.”
Gass is certain that the big name country concerts on the Bangor Waterfront over the past four years have directly impacted sales of western gear at his store, from hats to boots, shirts and ties. Chesney’s specific hat – a Blue Chair hand-shaped raffia straw hat, with a strap – has been ordered and re-ordered multiple times since his concert was announced over the winter. If it’s not saddles, riding gear, stable supplies and horse blankets that Gass Horse Supply is selling, it’s fashionable duds for country music lovers.
“I’d be kidding myself if I thought this was all a coincidence. We have plenty of folks that are traditional horse lovers, since we’ve been here 100 years,” said Gass. “But now we have customers that wouldn’t touch a horse with a ten foot pole. They love the look, and they come in to buy stuff for the concerts.”