To get a little philosophical for just a brief moment, everyone in the world, regardless of physical appearance, monetary wealth, societal desirability or even time period in history, wants and needs a way to show their inward feelings and propensities with their outward appearance (this is exactly why there are furries). Throughout time, body modification has been a medium that has transcended geography as well as all of the other aforementioned factors to provide for those innate needs. Even now, tattooing and piercing, in the modern world, are more popular than ever (well, maybe not EVER, but the point of this is not statistics. The point is that I'm pissed off). It seems as though every outlaw, inlaw, hiker, biker, outhouse, doghouse, hoghouse, henhouse, bimbo, kimbo, tramp, MILF, DILF, and middle-managment paper-pusher wants something that translate into their hopes and dreams. Soemthing to make them look introspective and edgy. Something that makes them look like more than themselves. In a way, I want that too. I guess.
What is probably even more popular than totally twee and hipster body modification (besides Affliction shirts and looking like a dime-bag sleaze with skunk-colored flat-ironed hair) is supporting small business, by buying things from places like Etsy online, or trying your best to buy apple-bourbon-cornflake fritter-goat cheese ice cream from a local computer-programmer/turned ice creamer that has a knack for making flavours that supercede "Superman" icecream. While there tattoo empires like the ones that are featured on LA Ink and whatever that other show is where everyone looks like they've taken seven hours to get ready to go to work and have a really fucking awesome time, tattoo shops are the pinnacle of small business ownership. You've got a really small staff of supposedly talented people that have thrown-off the chains of big business's oppression and are going to make their livelihood out of selling body modification to people that want to throw off the chains of whatever kind of oppression they've got going on by getting some kind of body modification that they'll surely place strategically, in order to still be employable in the cube (myself included on this one). It's a cluster-fuck, but it's better than buying your recycled bamboo sheets at Wal-Mart, right? The key, though, that tattoo shops seem to miss about being a small business: customer service. While this isn't the kind of business that forces you to rim all of your customers in the way that businesses like Starbucks, etc., do, a little bit of organization, decorum, professionalism and basic human kindness can go a long way in making a profitable and admirable business that is still standing when body modification is less fad-ulous. Maybe, too, try keeping a date-book and maintaining website...thanks.
I've heard, time after time, about how they've been burned in 'x' situation, or how this dude did 'y' and now they don't take checks or some other ridiculous policy. Somehow, I fail to see how those people's inadequacies are really my problem and why I should be privvy to some blanket policy because some drug-addict stiffed you five years ago. I can venture to bet that you probably hate that kind of predjudice when it is exerted upon you. Remember that the next time you can't be bothered to turn down your screamo-y "Bullet in my Forehead my guts spilling out on your newly restored Chesterfield," (or whatever those bands are called that have all of those ugly neon t-shirts at Hot Topic for three-hundred dollars) and talk to me about something that I'd like to have done. You know what, I can extend this message to any kind of service I've ever received at a tattoo shop.
There are people that often frequent tattoo shops even when they're not getting anything modified,those people that bring fifteen friends with them when they're getting a tattoo and those tattoo artists that have girlfriends that look like prostitutes that never seen to have any gentlemen callers to entertain. All of these people are annoying and don't make the tattoo shop any money...but still, they're allowed to loiter with unmitigated gall: smoking cigarettes right in the doorway so that I smell like American Spirits when I leave (thanks a lot!). I guess my problem in receiving any kind of appropriate service or communication from an average tattoo shop is that I fall into none of the above categories. Because I don't look like tarted-up skeletal remains, a paint-by-number coloring book or a tackle box, I must not be a legitimate customer that understands the "vision" of their methods of body modification. You know what, you're totally right. Much like the last tattoo shop I visited, where really classy guy in front of me wanted a Papa Smurf tattoo, I am not the kind of person that frequents these places and makes it my business to try be "cool," like that dude that's getting a half-sleeve of skeletons coming out of a rockabillyish, naked Pandora's "box."
Part of people a small business owner is being able to read people and respond to their needs accordingly. In fact, that's the goal over every business. I fail to see why tattoo shops feel as though they've escaped this basic part of every other businesses' model. Please, explain it to me. That's probably the most irritating of all of the complaints that I have. Tattoo artists present this sort of flippant and very blase attitude about everything that you could ever want to be tattooed on your body, unless you give them complete and utter freedom to do whatever they want and don't critique them about any drawings or suggestions that they give. WHAT?! Cut the attutide buddy, before I rip the "Prince Albert," right off of your body. The next time that I suggest a scent to someone at the candle shoppe and they don't like it...I'm going to try out this behavior on my customer and see how things go down.
Be reliable. If you say you're going to do something, do it by the time that you've given yourself. I'm not asking for something overnight, but you've set the parameters for your own business, not me. If you say you're going to be open, you better be there. If you have a website/facebook page/email address, respond to the messages that I send. I have to shower and be at work sober...so should you. If body modification is ever to become something that is accepted in mainstream society (it's practically there, although some SAHM's still use butterfly and purple rose tattoos as a means of rebelling against the fact that they hate the life that they so desperately wanted before they actually had children), then tattoo shop owners must create their own legitimacy.
With all of my anger and resentment at the tattooing industry as a whole, I'm sure that there are owners and artists that don't run this kind of show. I just haven't met them, tried to email them, called them or tried to set-up an appointment or get a drawing done of a custom tattoo I've wanted for three years. If you're reading this and you're a tattoo artists and you can actually keep your shit together, bravo! Send me a message and maybe I can give you my money. I mean, that's the bottom-line isn't it? They must not need my money that badly.
When I want a cup of coffee and I can't make it myself, I go to a coffeeshop and there's no hassle about what kind of coffee you want, if you want a work-up of the coffee with an estimate for how much it's going to cost, that you need to put down a deposit on the coffee and wait a year for an appointment to receive the coffee or how you've got to wade through a dozen hangers-on blowing organic, hand-rolled cigarette smoke in your face, talking about all of the awesome coffee that they've had in the past. You just buy the coffee and drink the coffee. That's it.
Whatever...I'm done with this topic. Working hard is for every other small business owner. You guys must've gotten a carte-blanche and didn't tell me about it.