By Dermot Connolly
The Oak Lawn Village Board made history on Oct. 22 for two reasons — by holding the first morning meeting, and approving the first tattoo business in town.
The board will continue to meet on the first and third Tuesday of each month, but following a decision made in September, the board will now hold the second meeting of the month a 9 a.m. while the first one will remain at the usual 7:30 p.m.
Before voting unanimously to approve a special-use permit allowing the tattoo business to open in former law offices at 9723 Southwest Highway, the board invited owner Brandon Blacher to discuss his plans and answer some questions.
“I think this is something that is long past due for Oak Lawn,” said Trustee Paul Mallo (3rd), who brought the proposal forward for the business in his district.
Tattooing may have had bad connotations “in years past,” said Mallo. “But in today’s day and age, it is something good. It is art history.”
“It is something that I approve of for our town, something that I approve of for my district,” said the trustee.
“It is elevated to an art form,” agreed Mayor Sandra Bury.
“It is going to be a tattoo studio more than a shop,” said Blacher. “A studio is focused on larger-scale pieces, portraits and sleeves.”
Blacher said he plans to hire two more tattoo artists, so three will be working there full-time. He will also have a “guest chair” for any prominent tattoo artists who might come from out of town occassionally.
“It will have limited opening times, so there is going to be somewhat light traffic,” he told the board, noting that people will first make appointments for consultations to discuss ideas before getting tattooed.
He said he plans to open from 2 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturday, but said work may continue after that time.
“We can’t have it open at 3 a.m., when the taverns close,” cautioned Trustee Tim Desmond (1st), getting laughs from the crowd.
But Blacher explained that while no new customers will be allowed in after 9 p.m., if someone is in the process of getting a tattoo, that work will be completed.
Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th) said that he approved of the location of the studio, amid a strip of storefronts on Southwest Highway, but raised concerns about too many of them opening throughout the village.
He pointed out that Chicago Ridge has set a limit of tattoo parlors to four in that village.
“We can look at those things, and set limits at another meeting,” said village attorney Paul O’Grady.
Responding to a question from Trustee Tom Phelan (6th), Blacher said that his price for tattoos will probably be on the higher end of the typical price range, perhaps starting at $100 and increasing depending on the length of time spent and the skill of the artist.
O’Grady pointed out that sales tax is not charged in tattoo businesses, which, similar to hair salons, are considered part of the service industry. Phelan said the lack of sales tax revenue coming into the village is another reason the number of tattoo parlors should be limited.