ECLECTIC RETAILER OPENING IN PORT JERVIS
Front Street’s newly opened Foundry 42+ is not your typical retail store. It is, said owner Cooper Boone, “experiential marketing” at its best, a place where clientele can “experience” their shopping visit, even become “immersed” in what Boone has created as a lifestyle brand.
“You’re basically coming into my world,” he said.
Boone’s world is about music, art, food and reinvented furnishings. At the store entrance, a coffee bar offers cappuccino, lattes and hot chocolate “made with milk, not water,” the proprietor points out. Homey flavors of five signature baked goods waft onto a floor where artisans demonstrate their crafts, such as candle making, painting and rug weaving.
And throughout, there are the eclectic curiosities Boone has rescued from stagnation, repurposed and re-imagined. A vintage tom-tom drum became an occasional table; a cheerleader’s megaphone transformed to a pendant light; a bunch of wooden arrows evolved into a centerpiece in glass. Boone has been “picking” his store inventory for years, gathering an assortment of oddments in which his creative eye saw potential.
The rear of the store is dotted with pieces from the Foundry 42+ furniture collections, each piece handcrafted by Boone and business partner Victor Salib, a metalsmith. Here, a sculpted black walnut coffee table, cracked and knotted, has been lacquered to a high luster.
“The Japanese have a philosophy called wabi-sabi,” Boone said. “It’s embracing what we traditionally think of as damaged. A crack in the wood doesn’t need to be covered up. It’s actually really beautiful. That’s how I view people. There are a lot of cracks and flaws that are quite lovely about human beings.”
“Throwaway” armchairs from the 1930s have been upcycled, their backs deconstructed to expose burlap and springs; their seats upholstered in imported, hand-loomed fabric. They are priced upwards of $1,000.
The yet-uncompleted upstairs of Foundry 42+ will be a rent-out community space for functions such as musical concerts, private parties, book clubs, yoga classes, art exhibits, chef dinners, lectures, children’s activities — virtually any event. “I see a calendar packed,” Boone said.
If the store itself is unconventional, then so is its founder. Hailing from a small town in Minnesota, Boone was a musician and ceramicist before relocating to New York City, where he practiced clinical psychology for some 24 years. He then returned to country music, touring nationally as a singer and songwriter.
“People, if they allow themselves to be, are a lot of things,” Boone declared. “And I allow myself to be a lot of things.”
Drawn to the “good bones” of Port Jervis for years, the time was finally right to launch Foundry 42+. The plus sign, Boone explained, means “in addition to ... including,” a logo emblematic of the store’s heterogeneous wares. The property at 42 Front Street (formerly Tri-State Fitness) had a windowless, wooden facade; its interior was “dark, small and stuffy,” said Boone. Now an architectural antonym of what it once was, the structure is fronted by a wall of glass, gutted and open inside. “Our furnishings represent what we’ve done with the building itself,” Boone said. “We re-imagined it.”
“Yes, some of our stuff is expensive,” Boone conceded, “and I don’t apologize for that. We are a higher-end store.” A visitor had expressed doubt, he said, that an upscale retailer can succeed in so depressed an area. “She said, ‘I don’t mean to insult you, but ...’,” he retold. “I said to her, ‘I don’t think you’re insulting me. I think you’re insulting Port Jervis.’”
Boone believes, he said, in the “reJervination” of the city. “You will not know this downtown in a year. Things are happening. I had a dream that all the (vacant) properties would sell within five years, and close to all of them have sold within one.” Port Jervis, Boone predicted, will return to its glory days, “but with a contemporary perspective. It’s not going to be 1955 again. It’s 2016, and it will have a new identity.”
Foundry 42+ is scheduled to open this weekend. For hours and more information, call 858-4942 or go to f42home.com.