When Bob Elfant first approached Sheena Allen inside Urban Athlete in Mt. Airy, she was a bit confused.
“[He] goes, ‘so you’re into tattoos?’ I thought he was jerking my chain for a second,” said Allen, whose upper arms are decorated with pink hearts, yellow daises and roses. “Then he said, ‘well there’s a new place opening up.'”
Allen’s disposition quickly changed.
“I said, ‘really? I want to be their first [customer].”
Since hearing about Kadillac Tattoo’s interest in Mt. Airy, Elfant, a real estate agent at Martin Elfant Inc., has worked hard to not only find them a location, but spread the word about their arrival.
West Mt. Airy Neighbors’ zoning board also supported the shop, which required a variance from the city due to its proximity to a church and its location below an apartment.
“[The tattoo shop] seemed like a good bet for [Germantown Avenue],” said Elfant, a Mt. Airy resident. “Now you drive past it and it’s got a little color, jump, excitement.”
On Saturday, the shop, located at 7102 Germantown Ave., had its grand opening. Allen, true to her word, was the first customer.
While sitting under co-owner Eric Perfect’s buzzing needle, Allen explained that her tattoo – a heart and flower with a ribbon reading “Mae” – was for her deceased grandmother, who shares the middle name with her.
“She took me to get my first tattoo and she was an adventurous lady,” said Allen. “If she was alive today, she’d probably be here [with me today].”
Perfect, who co-owns the store with his wife Lisa Flynn, said he sees tattoos—like Allen’s—as a good way to cement a memory.
“They’re like little road maps of your life and how you’ve progressed through life,” said Perfect, whose real last name is Flynn. “I think you connect more with the tattoo as a memory with more than anything else.”
As for the memory of his first day at his second shop, Flynn said he didn’t want to fuss over the occasion.
“It’s just another day at a tattoo shop,” said Flynn, who has been tattooing for 23 years.
While the shop seems like nothing out of the ordinary to its owners, Allen —who only lives a couple of blocks away—said she thinks it’ll bring more life to the area.
“This is a really awesome place to live but it’s kind of quiet and sleepy sometimes,” she said. “So this good energy I think and will bring some younger people around.”
Kadillac Tattoo be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.