TAMPA — Atomic Tattoos opened its first shop in a mall in 2010. Now the tattoo shops’ founders consider mall locations as part of a business strategy to attract customers.
Clay Montgomery, co-owner of Atomic Tattoo shops in the Tampa Bay area, said there are advantages and disadvantages to locating shops in malls.
“Malls are significantly more expensive, are bigger, have higher rent, and it’s more expensive to operate,” Montgomery said.
But a mall location eliminates some of the negative stigma tattoo shops get and makes it easier for a “soccer mom” to enter a tattoo shop after shopping, eating, or going to the movies, Montgomery said.
The TLC reality show “Miami Ink” has gotten rid of negative stigmas, he said. “The show brought in tattoo artists who were more approachable” he said.
“Tattooing had a bad rep because of the lack of cleanliness and cross contamination, which caused hepatitis. “Now tattooers in Florida need to have licenses to administer tattoos.”
In the Tampa Bay area, Montgomery and Stephen Cannon are the owners of 12 locations, with four located in malls. The first opened at the Westfield Brandon Mall.
Montgomery said he doesn’t prefer malls over street locations, but says he and Cannon look at demographics to determine which locations would be best and “sometimes areas surrounding malls have larger populations.”
Cannon, CEO of Atomic Tattoos, said that major mall corporations are realizing that to maintain an economic stronghold they “must evolve with the times and be relevant to what people want.
“Today, people are looking for experiential retailing where they can have a full lifestyle experience from the services they receive as well as the merchandise they purchase,” Cannon said.
Angela Trujillo, a manager at Atomic Tattoos in the Westfield Citrus Park mall, said “people are curious about what tattoo shops look like and many come in because they feel it’s not as intimidating.” The shop opened almost two years ago and is located between Sears and Macy’s.
Trujillo said that when she first started tattooing 16 years ago, “people weren’t as accepting of tattoos.”
Founders Montgomery and Cannon, who both shared a passion for tattooing, opened their first location in Largo in 2001. Over the years the company has grown to include three more partners all getting their start from working as artists at Atomic Tattoos.
Montgomery said they are currently looking at malls in Los Angeles, and Orange County, Calif. for additional shops.
Atomic Tattoos operates shops in Tampa Bay, Orlando and Milwaukee. Atomic Tattoos offers a wide range of services from body piercings, permanent makeup and tattoo removal.
The cheapest tattoo ranges between $60-$100 and the average is about $120-$150, but Montgomery said cost depends on body placement, amount of detail, amount of color, and size.