TAMPA – It could be any Friday or Saturday night, or really, any other night when the local happy hours shut down.
That’s when Fat Ink Tattoo, next to Westfield Citrus Park mall, really gets going. Sometimes the employees turn down business. Sometimes they recommend that maybe the idea for a tattoo is an idea to be slept on.
Sometimes their customers decide to go through with their new tattoos. Sometimes they show their appreciation by passing out on the floor.
Tattoos are big these days. Try going to your local gym and find one man or woman without some kind of ink. It is ink that’s supposed to stay forever. Some people want it gone the next morning after a few cups of coffee. Others decide they no longer care that much about the guy or girl they met at the bar before they found Fat Ink.
The crew at Fat Ink has seen it all. Except for manager Chrissy Barb, most of the regulars go by their nicknames or first names only. There is “John Foodstamp,” “Taco” and “Just Tom.”
Each has plenty of ink, including Barb, who has a special tattoo on her palm of an ice cream cone, and several facial piercings. Tattoos and piercings might not be for everyone, but they are huge in the pop culture world.
Still, those who get tattooed and pierced need to be at least somewhat sober before any art takes place.
“We can do any tattoos and we can fix any tattoos,” John Foodstamp said. “We can fix anything, but it is more painful to fix them than give them out. We have our share (of regrets) and we have seen everything once happy hour is over.”
Sometimes the staff just has to ask if someone is making a stupid, nonsober decision. Although the staff claims it can do anything, and there is artwork all over each wall to show off its credits, some ideas just aren’t the best at certain times.
“I had someone who wanted the name of his mother once,” Taco said. “His girlfriend saw it and freaked out.
“We’ll do anything, but they have to know what they are getting into and at least be in some kind of the right mental shape.”
John has seen many people simply pass out from the process. Others simply need to find a toilet to stand over, if they can make it that far.
All customers who make a mess, by the way, are supposed to clean it, but once in awhile, it’s the apprentices who get the dirty work, like the time a woman came in, got tatted, lost her happy hour all over the floor and then passed out face first.
“That just comes with the job,” Taco said.
Even if the business isn’t exactly mainstream, the people at Fat Ink take their job seriously. They ask the customer who wants his new girlfriend’s name on his arm whether he’ll feel differently the next day.
Anyone can get a tattoo at age 18, or 16 with parental consent.
“We can do any tattoo they want and we can do it perfectly, but sometimes we try to talk them out of it,” John said. “If they want it and are somewhat sober, we can do it.”
“At least it’s something they can take to the grave with them because it probably isn’t coming off,” Tom added.
The new shop, which used to be in the Westfield Citrus Park mall, will host a grand opening on Sept. 13 from noon to 9 p.m. Usually the store stays open until 10 p.m.
“Nothing surprises me in this business anymore. I have seen it all,” Barb said. “But, remember, if we didn’t give tattoos, we wouldn’t have a business. And it makes people happy. When I look at the ice cream cone on my hand, it makes me happy. That’s what it’s all about.”
Fat Ink Tattoo is at 8635 Citrus Park Drive. There are three other locations in Florida and one in Washington state. For more information, call (877) 732-8465.