CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – With pandemic restrictions mostly lifted, the tattoo industry is buzzing. More people are looking to get fresh ink, but the cost to customers is on the rise.
“Post COVID, we saw a lot of people decide that it was time to get living,” said Jason Eisenberg, the owner, and artist at Holy City Tattoo Collective. “For a lot of people that meant getting tattooed, finally doing what they wanted to do.”
Eisenberg explains that tattoos are a luxury and after a bleak year, luxuries are exactly what people are looking for.
“I think they’re a little quicker to spend money on luxuries and just enjoy themselves.”
The demand for tattoos is coming at a higher cost to both clients and shops. Required supplies like gloves, masks, and sanitizers are through the roof.
Depending on the product, shop owners are seeing as much as a 300% to 500% increase in costs as a result of the pandemic.
“People who ordinarily never would have used personal protective equipment, gloves, masks, etcetera, hand sanitizer, came out in mass and began buying supplies that people in close contact personal service relied upon,” said Eisenberg.
Additionally, hospitals and medical facilities required, and still do require, much higher stocks of these supplies than normal.
Eisenberg, who’s been in the industry for over 20 years, describes the lack of supplies as ‘the perfect storm.’ Years of stockpiling gloves, masks, and sanitizers, all went down the drain as supplies diminished overnight.
According to the tattoo artist, a case of gloves used to run around $60-$80 depending on the type. Now, that price has jumped to $200-$300 per case. This is because suppliers can’t keep up with the high demand.
The costs incurred to keep tattoo shops running fall back on clients. With the high prices of supplies, the cost of a tattoo is up.
That’s something Eisenberg wishes he didn’t have to do, but he says his hands are tied.
“Although we want everyone to be able to afford a tattoo, it is a luxury,” said Eisenberg.
Despite the increased prices, business is booming in the industry and Eisenberg feels fortunate to have work and doesn’t;t take it for granted especially because other industries, like the food and beverage industry, haven’t bounced back nearly as quickly.
“We’re very fortunate to be able to work after coming out of 8 weeks of government-mandated shutdown,” said Eisenberg.
Eisenberg believes many people have a new appreciation for life and want to live each day to the fullest after the pandemic changed so many lives. He recalls another bleak time in American history that impacted the industry and says people are responding differently.
“I remember after 9/11 when business dried up because people were less likely to spend money. They didn’t know what tomorrow was going to bring. I think the new take on it is, we don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring…let’s enjoy today.”