Tattoo shop stokes parlor feud

A new tattoo parlor opening on Bay Street has allegedly ignited a bit of a small business feud.

Atomic Cheetah Tattoo, at 740 Bay St., moved from the shop’s previous location in Towne Square in early April. Days later, the shop’s locks were superglued shut, spit was hocked onto the storefront and posters of a neighboring businesses were taped to the door.

The owner of Atomic Cheetah, Brian Hess, contends “groupies” of the neighboring American Pin-Up Tattoo are to blame for the vandalism.

“Strange things have been happening since we have moved in,” Hess said. “It just doesn’t make sense. What we do is different than them (American Pin-Up).”

Port Orchard Police Commander Geoffrey Marti said Hess reported a second incident to the police April 16 when the doors on his Ford F-250 pickup truck were superglued shut. Though he can’t say for certain who was involved and no admissions were made, Marti said one of his police officers spoke with the owners of American Pin-Up. The harassment to Hess’ business has since stopped, Marti said.

Marti said this is the first alleged business feud he has ever heard of downtown.

“This is the first time we’ve dealt with something like this,” he said.

The owner of American Pin-Up, Kalei Man Kekona, was unavailable for comment, but an employee of the company said there was an unwritten rule in the tattoo industry that says one shop shall not poach another shop’s location and that rule has been broken.

“My move was a business decision,” Hess said, “that’s all it was.”

Hess was frustrated at talk of an unwritten rule saying shops couldn’t locate within the same area. He pointed to areas in Bremerton and Tacoma where tattoo parlors used their close proximity to foster each other’s business, not destroy it.

“That supposed unwritten law is bull,” he said.

Tony Mitchell of Tony’s Tried and True Tattoo located at 595 Bethel Ave. agrees with Hess that there is no code determining where a tattoo shop can or can’t move. Mitchell said it wasn’t proper of Hess to move so close without first alerting the owners of American Pin-Up, but that was his prerogative as a business owner.

Mitchell, a confident, veteran tattoo artist who has been featured in tattoo magazines such as “Tattoo Review” and “Skin and Ink,” said animosity from both sides is misplaced.

“They just need to close their mouths, open their eyes and focus on their art,” he said. “The real ones stick together.”


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