RockIt Roost has become Kitsap’s source of Kustom Kulture goods over the past six years.
Now, the downtown Bremerton retailer is looking to expand, and is reaching out to its of community kustom customers, and more, to help the effort.
“We’re branding the store more as a gift and bottle shop,” said Chuck Mitchell, who co-owns RockIt Roost with wife Hanah Reed.
The shop also sells products online from clothing and kustom home decor to record players for the vinyl enthusiast. Mitchell and Reed also organize Kitsap’s annual Kustom Kulture Fest, one of the largest events in the region.
But the couple aspires to have the RockIt Roost be more than a shop, but a local hang out with a retro ambiance, complete with beer and food.
Earlier this year, the shop percolated into the neighboring shop space. What was once a kustom clothing store and photo studio grew into a gift and bottle shop specializing in craft beer and wine, and retro-inspired merchandise. The store now caters to hep cats and kittens with a penchant for the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s hot rod scene. It also hosts events such as beer tastings.
The kustom photo studio will remain a fixture of the business as it expands, though the retail store will be the primary the face of the business.
“There’s a lot of military wives doing stuff for their husbands who are out to sea, or for an anniversaries or a birthdays,” Mitchell said. ”(Hanah’s) been doing a lot of senior pictures lately. Kids come in who don’t want to do a traditional cookie cutter senior photo.”
The RockIt Roost started an online GoFundMe account, www.gofundme.com/72tekg, in March to raise funds for its expanding aims. GoFundMe is a crowdfunding website that allows anyone to raise money, be it for tuition, travel, medical bills or a business ventures.
But funding for the expansion wasn’t as successful as Mitchell and Reed had hoped. To compound the matter, the shop experienced a rough last couple of months. On Sept. 13, the message on the shop’s GoFundMe site changed from detailing the expansion to a call for help to keep the doors open.
“We didn’t expect to be in this position,” Mitchell said. “We felt pretty confident that the store was going to generate better numbers than it has.”
“We were on an uphill climb and then last month and this month we started to lose ground,” he said.
Mitchell said sales usually slump toward the end of summer as shoppers put their dollars toward school supplies. But sales were worse than expected. RockIt Roost is now trying to raise $2,100 by Sept. 23 to make rent; $4,200 by October to catch up on rent.
Mitchell doesn’t think that the store will be put out on the street right away should they fail to raise enough money, but the landlord would, understandably, begin looking for new tenants, he said.
Contributors to the GoFundMe site can get perks from their support. Donate $100 and receive a lifetime 10 percent discount on store products. Donate $250 and receive a 15 percent discount and VIP access to store events, such as beer tastings and October Fests. Donations can be of any amount, though, from as little as $5 to hundreds.
The expansion has been put on hold for the moment, but Mitchell hopes sales and donations will be enough to stay afloat.
“I feel strongly that creating this as a destination where people can come in and hang out and have a beer and get something to eat, will add income as well as bring people into the store,” he said.