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Rockit Roost soars in new downtown location

Chuck Mitchell and Hanah Reed relocated the Rockit Roost store to downtown Bremerton in December. The store focuses on all things Kustom Kulture. - Kevan Moore/staff photo
Chuck Mitchell and Hanah Reed relocated the Rockit Roost store to downtown Bremerton in December. The store focuses on all things Kustom Kulture.
— image credit: Kevan Moore/staff photo

Kitsap County’s Kustom Kulture community is on the rise, thanks in large part to the hard work of Hanah Reed and Chuck Mitchell.

Inspired by her father’s passing to pursue her dreams, Hanah first opened the Rockit Roost in Silverdale in 2008 with Chuck’s help. They’ve since married and relocated Rockit Roost to a Fourth Street storefront in downtown Bremerton in December.

But, just what is Kustom Kulture?

“It embodies anything basically that is hot rods, tattoos, motorcycles, pinups, derby, punk rock,” Reed said. “It actually embodies a lot of different things. So, when you say Kustom Kulture, I make it a point to reference a car. When the guys came back from the war and worked on cars they would make things and create things.

“They were rebels, but really they were just innovative and creative. A lot of Kustom Kulture people are innovative and creative artists. We like to celebrate being different.”

Chuck says there are a lot of little sub-cultures within Kustom Kulture.

“You’ll have the straight up hot rod greaser guys,” he said. “Then there’s the rockabilly crowd. There’s the pinup girls, and the more alt girls who aren’t into vintage but will be more about tattoos.

“It’s really interesting because it’s all kind of entrenched in that rebellious kind of 50s era when the guys were building the cars and the girls were wearing the guys’ clothes, rolling up the cuffs or tying up their T-shirts which was really taboo. What are you girls doing wearing boys’ clothes?”

One of the subcultures of Kustom Kulture is the Rockabilly crowd.

“People who say they are Rockabilly only wear vintage,” Hanah said. “They cuff their pants a certain way, wear their hair a certain way and have rules about how to live the lifestyle. It’s part of Kustom Kulture, but separate. It’s a lot of life maintenance. Then there are people who like to dress Rockabilly but they show up to a car show in a Prius, all of those people are unique and different.”

The Rockit Roost is as eclectic as the culture. There is a photography studio, a soon to be relaunched print magazine, clothing and quirky gifts, craft beer and wine and, of course, the annual Kustom Kulture Festival. Chuck and Hanah tied the knot at the festival in 2009. The festival ran for four years at the Silverdale Beach Hotel, but outgrew the space and moved to the Suquamish Clearwater Casino and Resort last year. This year’s event will also be at the casino and is slated to run May 31 and June 1.

“It’s going to be bigger and better than ever,” Chuck said. “It’s the earliest registration we’ve ever had for cars, vendors and contestants.”

Chuck focuses on the car show and music while Hanah runs a vintage VIP fashion show and a regular pinup pageant.

Hanah says the pinup show is for “girls that aren’t really familiar but want to be a part of it. These new girls are kind of dipping their toe into the pool so to speak. Whereas the VIP is an every day lifestyle, it’s not a hobby.”

Hanah was a pastor’s daughter and says that by growing up in such a sheltered way she came to “love different.” She lived in Las Vegas for a while and was surrounded by the Kustom Kulture and when she came back to Kitsap County she expected to see it here as well, but didn’t.

“To start a store and see the culture grow out of it, I think I did things backwards,” she joked. “You should probably wait for the culture and then you start a store. It wasn’t here when I started this store. There were a couple tattoo parlors. I thought people would like the style, but I didn’t realize the Rockit Roost was going to create a Kustom Kulture here, but it has. There’s events all the time.”

And, as the culture has grown, it has empowered more and more women from coast to coast.

“It gave regular women an opportunity to not only have a hobby, but feel good about themselves and have pinup pics,” Hanah said. “Who knew it would become such a craze? Now, everyone is a photographer. Every time I turnaround, there’s a new photographer.”

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