Calabash allows tattoo parlors after previously banning them

Even with an arm now almost full of ink, Corey Moore still can’t explain what prompted him to express himself through tattoos.

“I think words wouldn’t do it justice,” he said. “I don’t know if I could express that.”

He knew he wanted tattoos from a young age; his father even offered to give him his first when he was ready, but Moore wanted to wait until he could find something meaningful.

“I was always quite particular so I never bit because I knew if it wasn’t something I really wanted then I shouldn’t have it put on all the time,” Moore said.

“I guess as I have had more experience in life, I have been able to think of more things that are meaningful to me.”

Following:“Almost Like a Tsunami”: How Wilmington’s Tattoo Shops Thrive During the Pandemic

Moore owns the Books & Moore bookstore in Calabash, a town little known for body modification. Although he sometimes receives comments from older residents about his body art, Moore said during his lifetime that he noticed the change in the way people view tattoos.

“They’re not even that mean about it anymore,” he said. “It’s more just not understanding.”

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Now, in another sign of attitude change and growth in the area, Moore will soon be allowed a tattoo in town.

The Calabash Council of Commissioners voted last week to allow tattoo shops in its business highway neighborhood, the first time they have been allowed anywhere in Calabash.

Stores will be licensed as a special use and must be within 500 feet of residential use, which de facto limits the number allowed in the city, as the restrictions only leave a handful of eligible plots.

“Our freeway shopping area is so small and dense, and there is housing all around,” Calabash Commissioner Michael Herring said.

Herring said he didn’t know why tattoo shops weren’t allowed before, but it was likely due to their stigma and their willingness to control growth in the area.

“It’s just based on older premises and older ideas and, I mean, it’s 2021, it’s a different world,” Herring said. He said the move is a sign of changing that stigma, as is the city.

“It is nothing like what you will remember from days gone by,” Herring said. “It’s a different atmosphere and because of the stigma from before, I just think it’s irresponsible to discredit someone who wants to open a business like this and not give them the opportunity to win. money.”

Tattoo artist Jamie Burleson hopes to capitalize on and contribute to this changing zeitgeist.

Burleson currently works at a tattoo parlor in Brunswick County, but hopes to open his own store in Calabash that can show people what a modern, family-friendly tattoo parlor looks like.

“I prefer a more fancy place. I don’t want this to be your typical tattoo shop,” Burleson said. “We do a lot of custom work, that’s my thing. And I want it to be the beach because you know we’re at the beach.

Burleson said that despite the region’s reputation as an older enclave with traditional values, he doesn’t care about attracting customers.

“I have people who turn 80 for their first tattoo,” Burleson said.

“I mean, there’s constant traffic going through here. We get a lot of people from out of state being on a beach. We welcome people from different states who want to get a small souvenir tattoo to take home. “

Corey Moore shows off his tattoo of an ouroboros done by Jamie Burleson, who hopes to open a tattoo parlor in Calabash now that they're licensed.

Moore had one of his pieces made by Burleson – an ouroboros – and agreed that bringing his talents to Calabash would help people see what a store really looks like.

“I think the city is ready for this,” Moore said. “Even most of the older people don’t care anymore and I think it will be good for them to have tattoo shops around them to see that there are no bikers stopping and people smoke outside. “

Moore said he noticed that once most people see his tattoos, they recognize the meaning and the artistry behind them.

“It’s art and it’s more about expressing yourself and it’s obviously become very fashionable over the last 20-30 years,” Moore said. “I guess it’s just a greater acceptance of uniqueness and diversity.”

Journalist John Orona can be reached at 910-343-2327 or [email protected]

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