Last night's episode of “Tattoo Rescue” came to help out a failing tattoo shop in Philadelphia, Pa.
William “Pop” Johnson and his wife Barb opened Pop's Place Tattoo shop in 1992, but as just one of the only three tattoo shops in the 1990s, the competition was negligible. Now with the rise of shops across America, this old outdated shop and an owner who has battled cancer and leukemia for years, and refuses to keep up with the times, it needs help to stay alive. With manager, Gerry not allowed to make changes, he finally convinced the owners to call “Tattoo Rescue” to keep their livelihood going.
In came Joey Tattoo and his cousin Sammy the Builder, two Jersey guys with their team to renovate and rejuvenate this old shop headed for extinction. Philly has a long history of tattooing when visiting sailors would come to this port to have tattoos done. With their experience, if they can’t turn this place around in five days, kiss it good-bye.
As they watched from the car via the hidden cameras, they saw history repeat itself as they watched a tired and dirty shop from long ago, with little modernization. They watched the work of the artists on staff and critiqued their tattoos as well as the shop itself. They observed Barb, who still micro-manages the shop with ailing Pop, who has not tattooed in years.
The shop is so antiquated, that they are still using cloth chairs, which are illegal due to the blood and body fluids that can be lost during a tattoo application causing a serious health violation. The place is inundated with flash, which are sketches of tattoos that are standard. Nowadays, most tattoos are custom made and the amount of flash just takes up room that could be used to make money for the owners.
Joey came in to meet with Barb and the artists He immediately asked why they would work in a shop that looks like it were not cleaned in a month? Joey pointed out that the place just passed a health inspection and could not believe it. He also found out two artists did not have a license last week when he checked them out. He reprimanded Barb for letting them work without a license. He asked why Gerry, the manager did not enforce the rules, and he stated that he was always overridden in his decisions.
On day two, Joey came to the shop to start training the staff. He introduced Sammy to the staff, who will oversee the redo. Then he introduced Mike Devries, a world-renowned artist from California to mentor the team and train them in procedures. As the staff got ready for their customers, Joey and Sammy wanted to speak with Barb and Pop. They wanted to meet with the couple first and get to know them. He found out that Pop and Barb met where they both worked and married after just one month. After 33-years together, they expect it to last. Barb described her daily activities in the shop, which leaves little time for her to be with Pop until after 9 p.m. Joey knows that he has to convince Barb to step back and let Gerry be the manager.
Joey conferred with Mike, who gave him the report about each artist and how they did and what health violations they made during their tattooing. Joey met with the staff after their day ended, and they seemed to be satisfied. Then he asked Mike to tell his side. Mike told them about cleaning and shaving the canvas without gloves, or one resting their arm on the counter when refilling his ink and contaminating it over and over. Mike also had good things to say about their work, so it was all not a bad review. They advised them that their training would be off-site the next day and Sammy told them to remove anything they wanted, because everything else would be in a dumpster.
The next day, Joey went to the shop and found that all the valuable flash was gone. He and Sammy got into a shouting match, because Sammy specifically told them to remove everything of value. Joey could have sold the flash for about $5,000. Then Sammy admitted it was put into storage, and not discarded, but first Joey had his blood pressure raised to the limit. Sammy then told Joey that he found serious termite infestation and other bugs downstairs. Now they will bring Barb in to see what they found.
Joey then went to a photo studio with Mike and the staff to give them the latest tips on photo enhanced tattoos. The staff was not computer savvy, but they learned quickly and were impressed at the time it saved in their preparation work.
When Joey showed Barb the damage, the infestation had done, he then told her that she and Pop had to take a step back and let Gerry do his job. She told Joey that she and Pop discussed this, and they agreed to listen to Joey.
On day four, they tested the artists to find one who would draw customers to the shop. The five artists were put to the test, and one would win a new machine and a booth in the Atlantic City Tattoo Expo and a room at the Tropicana Hotel while the Expo was going on among other surprises. Then he told Gerry that he was not competing, but that he was now the manager with full rein of the shop and as the manager, he will be with the artist who wins and run the booth.
When they met with four women who were canvases and decided what they wanted; they then were taken to another tattoo shop to complete the task with Mike overseeing the operation. Joey then took Gerry to meet with Barb and Pop. They agreed that Gerry was like a son to them and were in full agreement with Joey; he was now fully empowered to run their shop.
Joey returned to see how the tattoos were going and the winner was determined to be Sean Surden, who did an awesome skull tattoo on the ribcage. Although just an apprentice, he will be going far in Joey’s estimation, and with just a year and a half as a tattooer, he could easily become as good or better than Mike. They said farewell to Mike and appreciated everything they learned from him and Joey left to return to the shop and see how it was progressing.
Joey took the owners and their new official manager to the shop to see the modern look. Gerry was in tears when he saw how clean and state of the art the place was. Joey showed the owners the new security system, where they can monitor the place from their home via phone or tablet. They also got a point-of-sale system, with a cash drawer and printer and scanner for their tattooing artwork. When the rest of the crew came in to see the new shop, they were amazed, they all had new custom chairs, not made of cloth. They each have a new booth with draws to keep them organized with ink, and all the supplies they need. Normally, when a shop is completed, Joey turns it back over to the owner, this time he handed the reins to Gerry, who will preserve Pop’s legacy for the next twenty years.
Since they rescued Pop’s Place, the profits have gone up by 30% and the shop is on its way to become more than a neighborhood shop. Barb is now spending more quality time home with Pop, and they are letting Gerry manage the shop. The staff was so happy with the results, that they each got "TR" Tattoo Rescue tattoos, so they could always remember the experience from this episode of “Tattoo Rescue.”
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