NEW YORK — Finding a new hat just got a little easier.

Kangol, the 60-year-old London-based brand, best known for its hats made famous by such celebrities as LL Cool J and Jennifer Lopez, has taken up a small space on Columbus Avenue in the city’s Upper West Side.

The 300-square-foot spot is home to the company’s first U.S. store, which sells its entire hat collection, as well as the brands’ new handbags and apparel. In addition to being the first American boutique for the brand, the store is being used as a testing ground for new products. The window displays items from hats to gloves to shoes, which will not be available for purchase until January.

With so many brands finding downtown Manhattan a more feasible area for a store opening, Kangol found the Upper West Side to be a better part of the city to represent the brand.

“This has been in the works for some time,” said Chuck Sternfeld, owner of the store and former chief financial officer at the company. “Originally, we thought SoHo was where we would open. But after Sept. 11, we noticed that stores were starting to move uptown, so we took a look at the Upper West Side.”

After a couple of years on the hunt for a space, Sternfeld settled at 196 Columbus Avenue. Sternfeld said with brands like Betsey Johnson, Intermix and Starbucks just within a block, he would be in good company.

“It’s serving as a test so we can decide to open other stores or not,” he said. “I can show the entire line in this space. There is no need for a bigger one.”

But bigger would be nice. Sternfeld said since the store opened almost four weeks ago, at times it’s been so busy that customers have to wait outside to get in. He said he has even noticed repeat customers. As the weather gets colder and because he wants to make sure he doesn’t miss any business, Sternfeld keeps the store open late — until 11 p.m. on weekends and 10 p.m. on weekdays.

“I don’t want to rule out any business and the store gets really crowded later in the day,” he said. “I can more than double my day’s sales between the hours of 6 and 10 p.m.”Sternfeld said he expects to bring in about $400,000 in sales the first year, but he has already beat his first month’s plan, so sales could end up being much more than that.

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