Country World Archives 2001-2008

Corsicana gal puts a new lid on an old grain bin

By MINDY POEHL | Central Texas Edition

Ruby Williams, owner of Ruby's Hats, shows off the men's cowboy hats, along with a woman's dress hat.
-- Photo by Mindy Poehl

Dec. 23, 2004 - An old, tall, cylinder-shaped grain silo sits just past the railroad tracks on Highway 31, in Corsicana. The silo no longer stores grain and a sign out front reads "Ruby's Hats."

When entering the building, which is now a boutique called Ruby's Hat Outlet, on a cold day, the heater by the front door makes the room quite toasty. Ruby Williams, owner of the outlet, is sure to welcome her customers with a happy smile.

The front room is filled with ladies dress hats with feathers and sequins on them and colorful dress suits. The main circular room is lined with cowboy hats, straw hats and leather caps. Ruby also sells ties, belts and buckles and engineer caps.

Ruby does not own the unique grain silo that is home to her business. In fact, she said, "This was the only place I could find to rent from when I was going into the hat business. I would really rather have my store someplace else."

Ruby's Hats are housed in a unique grain silo that's been converted to Ruby's Hat Outlet.
-- Photo by Mindy Poehl

But, visitors are impressed with the outlet found inside of a grain silo.

"People come from all over taking pictures," Ruby said. "I've had people from England and Germany come and I just shipped a hat to a customer in Alaska."

Before opening her hat store eight years ago, Ruby worked for a hat company for 31 years.

"I worked for Adam Hats that turned to Miller Brothers. Then they closed," Ruby said. "My husband was sick and I needed to take care of him for a while. After that I opened my own hat store. I really enjoy the people I meet."

Before Ruby turned the renovated grain silo into her hat shop, it was used as a vegetable shop, a resale shop, a donut shop and a teenage club, she said.

"My husband said the building was built in 1952. The upstairs is renovated and was used as businesses and beauty shops," she explained. "Now, the second floor is used for apartments."

Ruby first began her company by selling Western hats.

"My most popular items are Dobbs, Stetson and dress hats," Ruby said. "I also sell ladies embellished suits and hats, children's western hats, size 4X, 5X and 8 X Western hats, ties, socks, costume jewelry and fitted caps."

With her primary customers being middle age people up to senior citizens, Ruby said she is beginning to attract the "younger people because they like the caps and fitted hats. So, I really have a variety of customers."

Ruby, who is unbelievably 60 years old, has been married for 42 years. She is the proud grandmother of five grandchildren and the mother of two sons, one which lives in Maryland and the other one lives in Dallas.

"You know, this job is rewarding and I get to work with people," Ruby said. "I have only one problem- trying to keep what everyone wants."