A tattoo shop has set its sights on Main Street’s Arcade Mall.
Tattoo artist and businesswoman Shannon Purvis Barron, who has long owned Five Points’ Indigo Rose Tattoo Studio, has announced that she will close that shop in July. She intends to open a new shop, Ophidian Tattoo, in the Arcade Mall, which is located at Main and Washington streets, later this year. She is opening Ophidian with colleague and fellow tattoo artist Chelsea Owen.
Columbia City Council recently created a pathway for Barron’s planned move. Previously, zoning laws did not allow for tattoo shops in the city’s central business district. City Councilman Daniel Rickenmann recently successfully pushed for a change to the law, one that would allow for tattoo establishments in that district with special permission from the zoning board. Barron is now set to pursue that special exception with the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals.
Barron has been in business at 2009 Greene St., space 112, for 18 years. For the first five years it was a body piercing studio, and for the last 13 years she has been tattooing. The establishment was initially known as Body Rites, and became Indigo Rose in 2014.
Barron noted her continued passion for the tattoo business, saying that it presents constant new challenges.
“It doesn’t get old,” Barron says. “And it doesn’t get old because it is never the same from day-to-day. I’m creating something. I get to be creative, and I am basically coloring for a living. Every client is different. Every single time I see a client is different. Every body part is different to assess, so it is a very humbling experience.
“You feel really good one day when you finish up a tattoo and you’re like, ‘Hell yeah, I nailed that.’ Then the next day, if you come in with the attitude of, ‘Oh, these are going to be a piece of cake,’ it will drop you to your knees really quickly, because everybody’s skin is different, and if you don’t approach each one with as much desire to do the best job possible and really stay humble about what you know and how to go about doing it, it’s a beast that will just take you over in a heartbeat.”
As for why she wants to shutter her longtime Five Points shop and open Ophidian on Main Street, Barron says she was ready for a fresh start after two decades in Five Points. She had already been spending less time at the Greene Street shop as she homeschooled her daughter. But her love for tattooing remained. She simply was ready for a reset, with Owen as a business partner.
“I just wanted to wipe the slate clean, and I just felt like I wanted to go in a different direction,” Barron says. “I knew I wanted to move. This change came with a move. Even before there was a name change, I knew I was ready to move out of Five Points. It just seemed like it fit to do this with [Owen]. Although we are a lot alike, we are also way different. I wanted this shop to say that. I needed to change the name and kind of change our aesthetic to reflect that.”
Barron is enthused about potentially tapping into the emerging scene on Main Street, which continues on an upward arc that has seen the opening of new shops, restaurants and more in recent years. The Arcade Mall itself has gotten a facelift, and has welcomed new tenants, including an outpost of the trendy coffee shop Indah and the pizza shop Stoner’s, among others.
“I would love to be on Main Street and I would love to be two blocks away from the State House,” she says. “It just means a lot to me to be involved in so many things. … I want to be there. That’s the heartbeat. Even though Five Points is only a stone’s throw away, it feels cooler to me to be right there on Main Street.”