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AUSTIN EDITION Tattoo shop inks deal on new site

By Roxana Orellana

rorellana@postbulletin.com

The building in Austin is nearly empty.

At Unusual Expressions' new location near Mapleview, the floor is finished, signs are up and the doors are expected to open today.

"We did not sit on it (the decision to move)," manager Charley Hemann said.

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The move comes after the Austin City Council passed an ordinance that requires anyone younger than 18 to have a legal guardian's written permission to get a piercing, tattoo, branding or scarification. The guardian must also be present during the procedure.

The new ordinance would mean fewer clients, Hemann said. The irony is that the ordinance change came after the owner of the shop, Steve Kish, asked the council to review the law.

Kish asked the city to maintain its tattooing, branding and scarring age limit at 18 but to set 16 as the age for piercing without a guardian's consent.

However, after hearing recommendations from the Mower County public health nurse and community development director, the city set the age limit at 18 for all procedures, including piercing.

The city also added restrictions on the place of business and added new sanitation requirements.

"I think they tried to look into it, but they did not look deep enough," Hemann said of the city's changes.

Hemann said that if the store had stayed on Oakland Avenue, the new ordinance would have cost the owners 80 percent of their piercing revenue and 70 percent of their jewelry sales.

Kish moved the shop to Austin from LeRoy six months ago, and Hemann said more than 1,000 people stopped in the Austin store.

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The new location is at 24053 534th Ave., north of Mapleview in Lansing Township.

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