WARREN – There’s no mistaking the service at the brand-new storefront around downtown’s Courthouse Square.
Large steel letters on the sign say bluntly: Tattoo.
Not tattoos, but a singular tattoo – a nod to retro tattoo parlors, said Aaron Chine, owner of The Box Gallery, a well-known boutique that opened in a new location – a move that coincides with China’s renewed joie de vivre, from work to fly fishing.
China has been a tattoo artist for 17 years, the last seven spent at her former two-building store in the new West Market Street space that opened last week.
“Sometimes it’s hard not to be emotional” says Warren’s China. “It’s so special too… when I started tattooing I was tattooing for money to party and go on trips and stuff, but now I’m tattooing to feed my kids so it puts a whole different fire under you.”
“I’ve made a ton of changes in my life recently too. I just have this brand new fire for life and tattooing and fishing, and I’m more motivated now than I’ve ever been and having that space. to do it is like…” China said, making a sound in her voicemail of satisfaction and accomplishment. “I have to leave that to my son.”
He and his wife, Amanda, owner of the headband company, MandaBees, purchased the building at 169 W. Market St. about seven years ago. His goal was to use the ground floor as a tattoo parlour, but the couple ended up renting it out to BLUSH Spa. When, China said, BLUSH decided to move and expand to Howland, the time was right to move out of the space it rented on the second floor of nearby 179 W. Market St. and into the new home.
“It was definitely a win-win kind of thing. I’m not super religious, but I believe things happen karmically. I didn’t want to throw them out of here and move the store,” says China. “I wanted to move in here like we did yesterday (Tuesday) and have a good feeling about it.”
He began renovating the space in July, investing around $20,000 of his own money to transform it into a mostly open floor plan with a communal feel.
The interior work was done mostly by Chine, whose professional background includes plumbing and pipework, after his tattooing day ended. It breaks through the parties before someone comes on board full time to provide the service.
China’s tattoo space is decorated with his art and other items related to his personal interests, including a golden fish and a fishing rod made and donated by his father. It’s a tribute to his love of fly fishing; China is taking a break from tattooing in November and March to conduct fly-fishing expeditions with Pennsylvania-based Steelhead Alley Outfitters.
A distinct difference between the new store and the old is its open floor plan. Next door, the old store had partitioned walls, which China said made it feel like a cubicle job.
Another big difference – the main entrance faces West Market Street. The front entrance was at the back on David Grohl Alley. China said he had already seen a difference.
“We were open yesterday (Tuesday) and we already had about six walk-in people,” he said. “It’s super noticeable.”
AT THE RIGHT TIME
Downtown Warren is back; tons of people attend the weekly outdoor concert series River Rock at the Amp, its bar-restaurant scene is on fire – from West & Main to Beautiful Whirl’d and Nova Coffee Co. and the new Noodlefun in Saratoga and Modern Methods Brewing Company to others – and events at the Robins Theater draw large crowds.
Rick Stockburger, president/CEO of BRITE Energy Innovators on West Market Street, had a ringside seat for the most part. He’s been running the agency for about five years, a time that has seen quite a bit of change downtown.
BRITE is the only energy startup incubator in the state, but works with tech specialists from across the United States
He said people who visit the facility are “soufflé” something you’d find in Silicon Valley exists in Warren, but it’s not a differentiator.
What’s a differentiator is a vibrant community that provides a great place to live and work, he said.
“What amazes them is that you’re in a city center where you can walk to a cafe like Nova, there’s a brewery, a cool tattoo parlour…that’s what surprises them. people”, said Stockburger.
“Over the past five years since I’ve been here, I’ve seen the quality of what we do without losing character. You see a West & Main and Noodlefun, but we still have the Saratoga,” Stockburger said, noting the mix of established and new businesses in Warren found in other modern cities.
make an appointment
The Box Gallery tattoo parlor in downtown Warren will celebrate its new store at 169 W. Market St. today with a grand opening party from 2-6 p.m. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 3:00 p.m.