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Tattoo shop owner feels industry unfairly left out of reopening

As parts of Texas are beginning to open under the governor’s orders — the most recent being nail and hair salons — tattooists are left wondering when they will be able to open their doors.

Tattoo parlors have come a long way from the dimly lit back rooms from old movies. Today’s parlors are bright, clean and disinfected.

Cole Beck, owner of Goldleaf Tattoo Studio at 2826 Avenue H in Nederland, has been tattooing for 15 years and opened his shop a year ago, though he was not able to celebrate the milestone.

He doesn’t understand the reason tattoo parlors aren’t able to reopen.

“Everything is wiped down with medical grade sterilizer, we use medical soap to wash the tattoo, we wear masks, we wear gloves and everything is cleaned down,” Beck said. “If anything, I feel safer in a tattoo shop than anywhere else.”

Cole Beck, owner of Goldleaf Tattoo Studio in Nederland, has been out of work for close to two months and is waiting word to reopen. 

Nail salons may have 30 or so people come in and sit down, where his shop with three artists at maximum has six people inside unless someone brings a friend. Plus, he said, there are no walk-ins; work is done by appointment only.

His shop has been closed for nearly two months, but he still has bills to pay and no real idea of when he can reopen. He has heard May 15 and May 18 as possible reopen dates.

“This is my only real income, and it’s been pretty bad,” he said. “I have two artists that work with me and are not able to work.”

Beck’s wife works, and the couple have four children. To help while the shop is closed, Beck has been doing some custom painting on skateboards, shoes and walls.