GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - While salons, barbershops and gyms are celebrating a limited victory with the governor’s latest executive order, there is another industry feeling left out.
Like many other businesses, tattoo shops have been closed for six weeks, and now operators are wanting their opportunity to work.
Jack Donovan, owner of Jack & Diane’s Tattoo in Gulfport for 40 years, said his work family is like his own, and he doesn’t like his family to hurt.
“They all have families. They all have kids to feed,” he said. “You know what else they have? Health insurance. They all have to pay it each and every month.”
Marshall West has been working here for 23 years, and he’s not even the longest-tenured among the 10 dedicated employees who are sticking it out with their boss.
“It’s what I've done half my life,” he said. “And, I’d much rather be at work than be sitting at home collecting a check that I really don’t want. I’d rather just come in and make my own check. I want to earn my living the way I’ve been doing it for 23 years.”
So Donovan was feeling pretty good about getting some good news last week.
“When we were closed, it was salons, barbershops, gyms and tattoo studios,” he said. “So, naturally, when we heard the news yesterday, we were like, ‘Hey, we’re in.’ ”
They weren’t. The doors remain closed.
“And I know that I can speak for the tattoo industry in the state,” Donovan said. “We’re all frustrated. We want to go back to work, and yesterday, I think we take it as a personal insult, and I did call the governor’s office. I spoke to an aid who was very helpful, but I asked him directly to give me one, just one good reason why we can’t open, and he couldn’t tell me.”
He said while he applauds the opening of other businesses, he doesn’t understand why tattoo studios were left out, especially since the industry prides itself on stringent safety protocol that has always been part of its normal business practice.
“We’re not stupid. We want to protect our clients. We want to protect our staff, and he just needs to have some faith and some trust. There’s no way somebody sitting behind my desk can tell me how to run my business. I know what to do to be safe, just like a dentist knows what to do to be safe," he said.
Donovan added that when allowed to reopen, even more safety measures, like temperature checks, will be implemented.