HARLINGEN — After being closed for two months, many businesses struggled to get traffic back. But that is not the case for tattoo shops.
As businesses began closing in March, tattoo shops were affected.
Now as part of the reopening phase in Texas, tattoo businesses are back to work, like others such as barber shops and nail salons.
Now, people who had been wanting a tattoo are rescheduling appointments.
Rolando Betancourt, owner of Underground Tattoos in San Benito, said the business was definitely affected, but it is now going strong.
He also explained why so many people are currently on a waiting list.
“We work as a custom design (shop) and we have people waiting because of that. We have a walk-in artist but he is pretty busy as well. Through COVID it backed everybody up,” Betancourt said.
He had been hoping the closing would last a week or so.
“I had to reschedule everyone else I had and had to call everyone when we couldn’t open in April,” he said.
“In the meantime, people were still asking for tattoos.”
His business was eligible to apply for unemployment but without income coming in, the situation was still difficult to manage.
However, business is back and the demand for tattoos has increased.
“Now it’s booming,” he said.
Tattoo shops were able to reopen in May 19. For now, the shop is working seven days a week and appointments have been scheduled through August.
With that good news, specific health guidelines are being followed.
Betancourt is requiring his artists to wear a mask at all times and clients as well.
Without a mask people are not allowed to enter or get their tattoo done. Artists have to wear gloves, though they were used to those guidelines.
“We have always been six feet apart from each other but we as artists, we would wear masks even before because we talk and don’t want to spit on a tattoo,” Betancourt said.
If the client does not have a mask Underground provides one.
Artists Tucker Guerrero, 25, and Albert Padilla, 38, said the time they were unemployed was hard, but it served to make them come back inspired.
“It is always a different number of people every week, it is never a promised pay, it really depends on us,” Guerrero said.
“It is not like retail where if people don’t come you still get paid, we gotta work,” Padilla said.
On Tuesday both artists were working, Guerrero retouching old work on a young man and Padilla creating an owl on a woman’s leg.
Jose Ramos, 29, was retouching his chest with Guerrero.
He knew he had to wait to get his tattoo redone, but he was not bothered.
“I knew things were closed down, … but once I found out the state was reopening I decided to reach out to Tucker,” he said.
“I’ve always thought it’s never good to rush into a tattoo so I am just patient. Wearing the mask is a little uncomfortable but it is the norm now, gotta ride with it,” Ramos said.
At El Loco Tattoo in Harlingen the situation is similar.
Walk-ins are more than welcome.
Rollin Vidal, co-owner, said the business landlord was very understanding and savings were helpful to stay afloat.
Vidal said when the shutdown occurred it was their busiest season. Just like Underground Tattoos, overflow of clients are coming into El Loco.
“People in general had extra money, businesses weren’t open and people use tattooing and piercings for meditation. It boomed our business right now, we are overwhelmed, thank God,” Vidal said.
Vidal wore a mask while working on his client, who was getting Roman numerals on his chest.
“We are keeping clean and we do check their temperatures and if they have any symptoms we tell them to come another day,” he said.
“I’m glad we are back in business. We have been in business for 22 years and we plan to do another 20 or 30 years,” Vidal said.