Ink erasure

Deep Ellum gets the ink out

Ink erasure:Too many tattoo parlors in Deep Ellum? Is that possible?

Apparently, yes. The city council last week approved an ordinance that mandates at least 300 feet between parlors in the neighborhood, now home to a half-dozen such shops, most packed together on Main Street. In 18 months someone's going to have to find new digs.

Now you might think that at this point Deep Ellum property owners would welcome any paying businesses willing to stay there. You might also think that since tattoos have become so ubiquitous, the distaste some have for the parlors would have faded. You'd be wrong.

First the city comes after the tattoo parlors, and then what? Deep Ellum gets a Starbucks and a Gap?

Not quite, at least not yet. Barry Annino, president of the Deep Ellum Foundation, says tattoo artists are still welcome, but "a lot of owners feel like they want to have some different types of retail, and when we have four right in the middle, it's kind of tough." The goal is to spread the parlors around and try to attract businesses that will draw more daytime foot traffic. Besides, if some parlors do move out, that will just be better for those that remain.

Dean Williams, partner in Elm Street Tattoo, agrees. "Maybe there are too many tattoo shops in Deep Ellum," he says. "I've been tattooing in Deep Ellum since 1992, and when I started seeing all these shops, I was bummed...It's gotten to the point where walk-in business is terrible...Deep Ellum used to be amazing. It was a mecca. Now it's a ghost town."

Williams' shop isn't supposed to be affected by the new ordinance, which was intended to apply only to those on the same street. A city staffer told Buzz that the ordinance the council approved mistakenly didn't include that part, but it will likely be fixed with an amendment. Still, how will the city decide who has to move? Simple: The oldest shops get to stay put, and everyone else will have to move farther away from them.

Buzz is disappointed. We were hoping for a tattoo-off: Let the artists go needle-to-needle and be judged by a panel of art critics. The best artists stay. Their canvases? We suggest the council members' hides. Mayor Laura Miller in full shirt-sleeve tats with a death-metal theme--maybe that would finally get her some respect on the council. And it would look fabulous with pearls.

 
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