Interview with Boy's Fort
Jake France Establishes His Business In Kenton
Author’s Note: This article is the fourth in a running series on the revitalization of the North Portland neighborhood of Kenton. Stay tuned for continuing coverage of this developing area.
In my last article I discussed how Preston Browning, founder of Salvage Works, opened up the front space of his building at 2030 N. Willis in the Kenton neighborhood. Most recently Browning has opened his space to share with Solabee Flowers.
The third business in this Kenton art and design collective, Boy’s Fort is the brainchild of designers and co-creators R. Rolfe and Jake France. The youngest business in the group, after hosting a two month holiday 2011 pop up shop through the downtown business alliance. Long-time designers and friends Rolfe and France presented Boy’s Fort, their first foray into retail. After an extremely favorable first impression from the pop up shop, many artisan men’s shoppers were left wondering, where’d Boy’s Fort go?
Raised in North Portalnd, Kenton is France and Rolfe’s proverbial hometown. It’s also where Rolfe was already living. The two long-time friends decided that they could both benefit from opening a retail space, in addition to their primary design work, but where? As luck would have it, the folks at Salvage Works were just contemplating opening their doors to shopkeepers, and Rolfe knew Preston, as they both lived in the neighborhood. Boy’s Fort opened the doors on their shared space with Solabee in April of this year.
Boy's Fort brings old to new, with accessories, furniture, art, and gadgets for any man. All insipired by the past, but practical for the present. "We all thought all the three businesses would work well together here bc we all have a similar love for a certain aesthetic; a little rougher, more weathered, more NW look."
He went on to tell me how he and Rolfe fit into the framework at the co-op, "What Rolf and I do as designers is layer on top of that, bringing in all sorts of things. And we try and do it with a sense of humor. [At the collective] there’s a lot of cross-pollination. Our target audience is homeowners and neighborhood folks, although were also seeing a lot of people come from elsewhere." Boy’s Fort is rugged and north-western.
So ends the fortuitous tale of how three businesses decided to work in harmony to achieve shared goals of sustainability in business. The three co-operative businesses are part of a group headlining an effort to revitalize the historic commercial district of Kenton. Other new Kenton businesses not yet featured include the local-artisanal Italian restaurant Pizza Fino; high-quality consignment furniture, clothing home goods shop, Give and Take; home-spirit brewing shop, Home Brew Exchange; and sprawling vintage and antique shop, Kenton Antiques.
These new businesses are added to a main street that already boasts bars, a café, a Friday farmers market, a thai restaurant, a liquor store, a meat market, naturopathic offices and affordable housing options, all go to show a bright future for this weird little neighborhood in North Portland.