New ink laws could drive tattoo artists out of Gastonia

- Gastonia City Council members met Tuesday to plan new ink laws that could limit tattoo parlors.

The new restrictions detail that tattoo parlors can only be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the store size must be at least 3,000 square feet, and stores can only offer “by-appointment” customers.

“If you go to an oil change shop and closing time comes around and they only have three quarts of oil in your car, they aren’t going to send you home and say come back tomorrow for the other two,” former City Council Member Walter Kimble told FOX 46 Charlotte. “It doesn’t work like that with body art.”

Kimble said tattoo parlors should be treated like any other business and if car shops or grocery stores can be open passed 9 p.m., tattoo parlors should not be restricted.

“We can’t have any type of business regulation that is going to put someone put of business,” said Kimble. “That’s just isn’t the American way.”   

Jeff Mauney opened his tattoo shop Ink Link in Gastonia 20 years ago at a time when business was booming.

“Gastonia itself has been a little mecca for tattoos for 20 or 30 years.”

Now, Mauney told FOX 46 Charlotte he fears for the business because new tattoo parlor will not be able to meet the size restrictions or pay the rent with limited hours. He said walk-in customers are half his business and the majority of his work go late into the night.

“That’s just going to push tattoo artists out of the city of Gastonia,” Mauney said. 

The new restrictions won’t impede on existing businesses by may drive businesses out of Gastonia. Guidelines have raised eyebrows as to why City Council is focusing on tattoo parlors. There have been no recent incidents with police or disruption at tattoo parlors in the past three years. 

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