New Era (NYC flagship)

Neighborhood: East Village
Type of Place: Hat Shops

When I ducked into the local flagship shop of this premium-baseball-cap company, ESPN was, not surprisingly, broadcasting from the wall-mounted TVs. Just one problem: The talk was all about the deceptions of A-Rod--or "A-Roid," as the tabs have been calling him. Not the best recent news for A-Rod fans, Yankee fans, or MLB fans overall.

However, New Era was around long before A-Rod, and its place in baseball history will outlive this scandal as well as whatever others may come.
Started in Buffalo in 1920, on $1000 in capital, by one Ehrhardt Koch, New Era has been in the cap business for nearly a century; and in 1993, the company received the first exclusive license to make all on-field pro-baseball caps for MLB teams. If you want authenticity in your baseball hat, this is the place to come. (Spike Lee, apparently, did want that authenticity; he made New Era caps part of his style years ago and has since directed some of its ads.)

The cap array is wide--college teams, pro teams, non-baseball teams, and even non-sport-related icons. A sample of the sports offerings: Yankees and Mets, of course ($35.99); Lakers and Knicks (also $35.99); St. Louis Cardinals ($27.99--not sure why this is cheaper, but it's a cute red cap, and St. Louis has the awesomely slugging first baseman Albert Pujols!); and Louisiana State University basketball ($32). There's also a super-sparkly Yankees cap made from polyurethane ($35); and one of my personal favorites, the iconic Brooklyn Dodgers cap ($35.99).

Off the courts and fields, there's an assortment of cartoon creatures; spiders ($33.99); clovers ($31.99); and safety pins ($49.99, but they look very cool!). There are Batman caps from $33.99 and--grab them while you can--limited-edition Barack Obama caps at $35, with a portion of proceeds going to charity.

Kid sizes are available too, as are some clothing items--like a t-shirt cheerfully printed with brightly colored caps ($32).

Scandal, schmandal--New Era's got the goods that will help you support your teams through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the incredible for years to come.

  - Pamela Grossman; Feb 16, 2009

New Era (NYC flagship)
9 East 4th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 533-CAPS