By JEREMY GOULD/Montana State News
Love where you live.
That’s the mantra of Alex “Papu” Rincon, and he leads by example. Rincon is the founder of four0six, a Montana lifestyle shop located in Helena that promotes outdoor Montana living, local arts and youth culture.
A lifelong resident of Helena, Papu grew up inline skating and snowboarding, saving up his wages from managing the local Footlocker to buy his first board. After that he was hooked, already spending most his time fly fishing, camping and skating, he had now found a way to be outdoors all through the winter as well.
A graduate of Carroll College, Rincon made use of his time at school. Triple majoring in business administration, Spanish language and literature and a multidisciplinary major in visual arts with an interest in graphic design. Growing up, education and a drive for excellence was always close by. His father Alex Rincon maintains a professorship teaching Spanish at Carroll.
“I would say my family’s ties to education and work ethic did a lot to push my own learning and success,” says Papu Rincon.
This energy has paid big dividends for Rincon, now 33. Not only is business thriving – four0six recently acquired and moved into a larger downtown space, but Rincon has received multiple national honors. The Small Business Association named him Montana’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and last year he was honored by the White House as a Champion for Change, speaking at a small business summit there. In addition to this, Rincon was also recently made the youngest member in history to the Carroll College board of trustees.
Discouraged by the lack of support for not only local arts, but the youth skate scene and lack of music venues, Rincon was on the verge of leaving to a community with a greater arts and cultural scene but realized what a mistake that would be.
“I started thinking to myself, you know, I love life here more than anything,” he said, “and it should be on people like myself to make it a more inclusive and supportive community for all.”
After working at the now defunct Big Sky Board Sports, Rincon soaked up all he could about running a youth-driven local business and in 2007, opened four0six.
“I put almost all my energy into connecting with the community, kids, artists, musicians, any organization and event that needs the support of local community members and businesses,” he said.
Despite his long list of achievements, most days Rincon can be found behind the counter of four0six, sharing smiles and laughs with young customers excited about their first skateboard or local artists whose work adorns the walls. No matter the person, Rincon finds time and a way to connect with all members of the community.
Longtime friend Sam Erickson says of him, “Whether it’s taking laps at the local hill, Great Divide, or fly fishing on the Blackfoot, he always has a smile on his face. Every day I spend with him he is sharing his stoke with everyone around him, the old timers at the bar or the young kids running around his shop – it’s infectious.”
– Edited by Molly Wright