Friday, February 23, 2024

‘It’s Like Adult Dress-Up’ at Newly Opened Coronado Hat Company

Steve ‘Woody’ Wood and Junie Nguyen

It’s been a dream 10 years in the making, but the Coronado Hat Company is open for business.

After Steve ‘Woody’ Wood moved to the United States more than three decades ago, he got a job at the Hotel del Coronado and knew immediately: this was the place for him.

“It felt like home,” Wood said. “That’s how I knew.”

While his Coronado store is new, Wood and his partner, Junie Nguyen, have been in the hat business for two decades. They started out with a booth at the Fashion Valley mall and later expanded into a store in Las Vegas, which they still operate.

“I’m never without a hat,” Wood said. “It’s like adult dress-up: You put on a hat and it changes your attitude.”

Wood’s penchant for hats came years ago, after his grandmother died, when he was helping to organize her home. He came across his grandfather’s collection of handmade hats from the west end of London, and everything fit. He also found photographs from 1937.

“Everyone was dressed to the nines, wearing these fantastic hats,” Wood said. “That sort of started it out for me.”

As his operations grew, so did his reputation. Jennifer Lopez wore a Panama hat designed by Wood during her performance at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards. That hat, along with an abundance of others, is available in the store.

In addition to “every kind of hat you could possibly imagine,” Wood said, his store will soon offer custom hats, a venture he launched in his Las Vegas store five years ago. While he’s not closing that store, he’s ecstatic to be open for business at last here.

“Coronado is that dream of every 1950s small town in America,” the London native said. “The community support has been overwhelming – I’ve just met the most lovely people.”

In fact, while chatting with a customer from India, Wood asked where he could buy a good lamb curry, and instead landed himself a dinner invitation at her home.

“That’s Coronado,” Wood said.

Coronado Hat Company is at 916 Orange Ave. and is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.



Megan Kitt
Megan Kitt
Megan has worked as a reporter for more than 15 years, and her work in both print and digital journalism has been published in more than 25 publications worldwide. She is also an award-winning photographer. She holds BA degrees in journalism, English literature and creative writing and an MA degree in creative writing and literature. She believes a quality news publication's purpose is to strengthen a community through informative and connective reporting.Megan is also a mother of three and a Navy spouse. After living around the world both as a journalist and as a military spouse, she immediately fell in love with San Diego and Coronado for her family's long-term home.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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