A tattoo shop has gotten final approval to open on Columbia’s Main Street.
The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals on July 9 gave its unanimous approval for a special exception for Ophidian Tattoo to open in Main Street’s Arcade Mall. Tattoo shops were not previously allowed in the city’s central business district. The zoning board’s approval for Ophidian followed a June vote from Columbia City Council that created a pathway for tattoo establishments in the city center.
Ophidian is being opened by businesswomen and tattoo artists Shannon Purvis Barron and Chelsea Owen. Barron is the longtime owner of Indigo Rose Tattoo in Five Points. She plans to close Indigo Rose later in July, and is eyeballing a possible late summer opening for Ophidian.
Barron tells Free Times she was relieved to get the vote she needed from the zoning board.
Owen, who has been working with Barron for six years at Indigo Rose, says she’s ready to embrace being a business partner at Ophidian.
“It’s very exciting for me, because I’ve never been a shop owner before,” Owen says. “It’s going to be a great learning experience, and I do think being on Main Street is going to be great for the type of clientele that we attract and growing our business.”
Barron has operated at 2009 Greene St. 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.
But now she’s prepping for a move to Main Street, which has continued to see revitalization in the last several years, with updated streetscaping and facades, an influx of bars, restaurants and apartments, and an uptick in entertainment opportunities through venues like The Grand bowling alley and the venerable Nickelodeon Theatre.
The L-shaped Arcade Mall, which has entrances on Main and Washington streets, has been a part of the corridor’s rebirth. It’s undergone an extensive aesthetic upgrade, and added a number of new businesses, including Stoner’s Pizza, Pita Pit and an outpost of trendy coffee shop Indah, among other storefronts.
Barron says she had her eye on a spot in the mall for a while, but was initially disappointed when she learned zoning wouldn’t allow a tattoo shop at that location. She says officials at the Arcade Mall helped advocate to get the shop the exception it needed, and that City Councilman Daniel Rickenmann was critical in helping push the zoning change through.
“I don’t know him, but I am excited to meet him and shake his hand,” Barron says of Rickenmann. “That type of generosity, looking at our story and putting some movement behind it to make this happen, I’m just extremely appreciative of it.”
Matt Kennell is the CEO of City Center Partnership, the property owners advocacy group in the Main Street District. He says he is pleased to see Ophidian coming to Main, and that the zoning exception process worked as it should.
"We see this as being a creative place and a place for everybody, an inclusive kind of place," Kennell says of Main Street. "When we heard about [Ophidian] we were supportive. ... I think the way the city zoning ordinance is set up you can look at every business on its merits. [Barron] has a great reputation, she has a great clientele. She's the real thing. We're supportive of it."