Welcome to Modern Electric.
So, You're wondering how to open your own tattoo shop?
Starting any new business can be extremely stressful especially if – like me – you are a tattooist first and a businessman second. But also wondering How to open your own tattoo shop. Then this guide should help. I opened Modern Electric 10 years ago, early in 2010 at the end of a global recession under another name.
Here’s a simple checklist based on my personal experiences in the tattoo industry for any who wants to know how to open your own tattoo shop? as a real world guide for starting a successful shop. I’m going to call this guide ‘Welcome To Planet Motherfucker you Psychoholic Slag’
- Choose the right location for your shop
It’s not 1920, we have the interwebs man.
- Get a lease and the right permissions
Do your research and save yourself money.
- Get a good landlord
One that won’t throw you out on you ear at a moments notice is preferable.
- Get a good Lawyer
They can save you a fortune.
- Get trustworthy staff
The kind that don’t steal from you and then ride on your coat-tails are best.
- Do great work and share it
Preferably with the editors of a number of number of international magazines.
- Don’t compromise
It’s better to fail as you than succeed as someone else.
Location, Location, Location?
Choose the correct one for your type of business
There are a lot of ‘how to’ guides online but to be honest I doubt that any of them were actually written by anyone who actually knows how to open your own tattoo shop! Quite honestly I wouldn’t follow any advice. The romantic notion of owning a smokey, neon light tattoo shop between a pub and a brothel that’s frequented by sailors, bikers and hookers may have huge links to the deep and rich culture and history of tattooing. But what applied in 1920 certainly doesn’t apply in 2020!
Today, everything and anything can be purchased on-the-go and our shopping demands can be fulfilled with just a click.
High streets around the world are quiter that ever and less traffic means less customers to your new business. Add to this the high running costs of high street locations and you start to see why many tattoo shops fail in these locations.
The High Street is Closing Down
18% of 25-34 year olds do all of their shopping online.
DEAD HIGH STREETS
More people are choosing to shop online: “In the retail sector, online spend is almost breaching 20%, with £1-in-every-£5 spent coming through internet sales, which has effected the true value of physical retail stores.”
Physical space is expensive: “Extortionate rents for premises and the business rates that straddle them have placed additional financial pressures on those who are already under serious strain.”
Consumers are more careful: “Consumers themselves are becoming more conscious spend-wise, with the economic ramifications of Brexit continuing to cause a crisis of confidence in people’s wallets.”
Retailers can’t keep up: “Some retailers are suffering natural decline by not offering consumers a reason to shop in their stores, suffering from outdated USP’s, with poor fiscal management and standing still in an environment that demands fast-paced evolution.”
On or Off The High Street?
Choosing a High Street location
Competition drives prices down and keeps them there.It’s been my experience that the hourly rate of ‘street shop’ work hasn’t increased in the ten years I have owned my shop.
Lower quality clients make maintaining an up to date professional porfiolio almost impossible.Endless faded grey roses and infinity symbols do not make an attractive portfolio for higher quality clients. They will look and go elsewhere.
Attracting top quality artists to work in high street locations that dont deliver quality clients is very tough.If a tattoo shop cannot deliver quality clients for the tattooists they will move on quickly. This will leave your shop An ‘apprentice mill’ with a massive staff turnover and no consistency. This is a huge red flag for good artists looking for a homebase and serious clients alike.
Choosing a location away from the High Street
The cost of leasing or buying a property in a non-retail focused area is far cheaper.
The internet and your ability to build an online profile negates the need for a shop front. Your website is your shopfront.
Higher quality Clients that are willing to travel because they want better work.
Basing your business on high quality, low volume tattooing is more ressession proof.
Things to consider
Once you've found your shop
Handshakes ain't worth as much as they used to be...
The 'use Class' of tattoo shops in the UK
Change of use
And that brings me neatly onto my final piece of advice.
Hire Good Staff!
Check, Check & Check Again
Check their credentialsAs the owner of the business you cannot take peoples word. You must protect the tattoo shop and so it’s imperative that you check that their CV is genuine. Call the refernences and get an idea of the person you are hiring. Better now than down the road.
Check their work is theirsHave the artist demonstrate that they can do the things they say can and have them perform some studio tasks in front of you. IE: Setup and break down a station, use an autoclave explain aseptic technique and zonal pathogen control. This simple check would have saved me from from hiring a lying ‘scratcher’ who went on to steal anything he could from me.
Check with previous studiosCall where they say they used to work and ask if they left in ‘good standing’ and if not, then why not?
Put a contract in placeAnd then you can sue them when they open a shop 3 miles from yours. I wish I had!