New life comes to historic mall in Columbia’s downtown
The Indigo Rose Tattoo Studio, which has operated in Five Points for 18 years, plans to move to Main Street’s Arcade Mall.
The move is made possible by a new Columbia ordinance that allows tattoo studios in the central business district, with special permission from the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals. The board governs such matters as businesses with drive-thru windows, liquor stores and requests for parking variances.
The Indigo Rose studio, which will be renamed Ophidian Tattoo, will face a hearing before the board July 9. Owner Shannon Purvis Barron is expected to receive the exception because she also works with plastic surgeons, doing mastectomy tattoos on breast cancer survivors, said city council member Daniel Rickenmann, who shepherded the new ordinance.
“To me, the proximity of (Barron’s new location to) the hospital and being close to their folks was a big part of that,” he said.
Barron’s present shop is located at 2009 Greene St., Suite 112 — in the retail strip on the first floor of the apartment building next to Andy’s Deli. She said that after nearly two decades there, first as a piercing studio, then as a tattoo studio, she just wanted to make a change.
“We were looking for something a little nicer,” said Barron, whose husband, Porter, owns the popular Warmouth restaurant in Cottontown.
So she and collaborator Chelsea Owen started a search for a new location. But the tight zoning controls in many areas of the city made moving to Main Street, Cottontown or other up-and-coming districts impossible.
“We were discouraged because there was nowhere to go,” she said. Arcade brokers “were dumbfounded we couldn’t rent a spot.”
So Rickenmann and the council made the ordinance change to allow special exceptions. That was good news for Arcade owner Ron Swinson, who is renovating the 105-year-old mall that hosts some funky businesses like “bro-tique” Circa 1332, Stoner’s Pizza and Blue Sky’s art gallery.
“A significant part of their business is breast cancer, and our brokers were impressed,” he said. “This is not what your first thought would be when you think of a tattoo parlor. They do tattoos, but their business is more than that. And given the eclectic businesses in the Arcade, we thought it would be good fit. We talked to other tenants and the response was all positive.”