As I searched for my next tattoo shop to visit this month, I remembered always driving by a shop on my way to band practice down at Factory Studios in Carlstadt, NJ. The shop was called Tattoo Shoppe, and it is located right at the intersection of Hoboken Rd. and Hackensack St. in Carlstadt. Parking is minimal, but if you get lucky, you can grab a spot right in front.
I entered the Tattoo Shoppe only to see, what I felt was, a really old-fashioned, old school tattoo parlor. Co-owner J.T. Wood, who at the moment was consulting somebody on an upcoming tattoo, greeted me. He showed me around the shop. Like most shops, Tattoo Shoppe had the “flash” art books up on their walls, and three private rooms where the tattooing is done. As, I looked around, I noticed that J.T. was the only one in the shop. So, I asked him if there were any other artists that tattooed there other than him. He told me that there was one other artist there named Steve. No last name was given because J.T. couldn’t remember it. So, we walked into J.T.’s little room, and we talked a little bit about the Tattoo Shoppe.
Tattoo Shoppe has been in the same spot in Carlstadt, NJ, for a little over 25 years. According to J.T., they don’t do much advertising and most of their clientele is by word of mouth from previous clients. He also said that what draws new customers to the shop is that they use clean and sterile needles, they’re nice guys with no attitudes, and they do good work. Price- wise, compared to other parlors, Tattoo Shoppe’s prices seem a little low, but can vary depending on the piece. They start at $60 and up. J.T. told me that they do charge by the piece, but if it’s a really big piece, he’ll charge by the hour, just so he can give each piece the artful attention it deserves. I mean, it is about making money too, right?
As for the age demographic of the people that walk into the Tattoo Shoppe, J.T. told me that he usually does 18 and up, but sometimes after a bunch of paper work and jumping through a bunch of hoops, he’ll tattoo as young as 16 years old. When I asked him what was the oldest age person he’s tattooed, his reply was, “What? Older than me?” He said that one of the reasons customers keep coming back to him is because he’s funny and that they get the sense that their grandfather is tattooing them. In all honesty, he says that it depends on the canvas, meaning the skin. If their skin is still in good shape, he’ll tattoo them, no matter what their age is.
As I talked to J.T., I noticed that he really comes from the old school of tattooing. He said that he didn’t start out as an artist, but he did learn everything he knows about tattooing from hanging around tattoo shops, mopping up puke and bottles of beer because back then, it was okay for somebody to sit down and have a beer while they were getting tattooed. He says times have changed, and remembers a time when you didn’t have to worry about wearing gloves because you didn’t have to worry about catching hepatitis or AIDS.
J.T. told me that Tattoo Shoppe is a custom shop. You can bring in your own pictures, and they’ll tattoo it. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get flash artwork done here. They will do that also. He says there’s simply nothing that he will say no to as far as tattoos go. Well, except racist tattoos or offensive ones, of course. Or if you’re drunk or high, he will not touch you either! Tattoo Shoppe used to do piercing, but had to put an end to that when their piercer left.
So, if you’re in the Carlstadt, NJ, area and you want to get some ink done, you might want to stop in at the Tattoo Shoppe and check out their work. They’re located at 309 Hackensack St., Carlstadt, NJ. Walk-ins are welcome, but if you want to make an appointment, you can call 201-933-0037. If you want to see some of their tattoo work online, you can log onto tattooshoppe.com
Well, I’m off to check out my next tattoo place! If you have a tattoo shop that you want to suggest to me, send the name of the tattoo place, the address and phone number and the person to contact.