Wisconsin Knitwear Inc.
1111 W. Lincoln Ave., Milwaukee
Neighborhood: Lincoln Village
Owner: Steven Arenzon
Product: Custom knit hats
What’s the history of the business?
Arenzon: “We’ve been in business since 1979. My father immigrated to United States from Buenos Aires, Argentina. My grandfather had a sweater company in Argentina so that’s how we progressed into this. My father worked for another knitting company in the Third Ward and then in 1979, he opened this up. We’ve been at this location since 1998.”
What do you make here?
“We’re a manufacturer of knit hats and knit headwear. We’re one of the last remaining headwear companies in the United States who produce in-house. We manufacture for all over the world. We knit names directly into our hats. We do a lot of merchandising, from schools to rock ’n’ roll bands to trucking companies to – you name it, we’ve done it.”
How many hats do make per day, on average?
“We could do thousands of hats a day. We could produce hundreds of thousands of hats a year. It just depends on the types of hats. Everyone needs their stuff quickly.”
Have you produced hats for any cool rock bands?
“We’ve done Wilco and the Indigo Girls and Dave Matthews. The concert promoters are very nice people. One concert merchandiser told me, ‘I consider your hats to be what T-shirts were in the 1970s. They’re really popular. This time of year, they outsell T-shirts.’”
Which hats do you enjoy making most?
“My kids go to Nicolet High School and we’ll do the knit hats for their homecoming.”