EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 25, 2013

Downtown's new addition: Tattoo parlor

Haverhill's only body art shop adds to mix in city center

HAVERHILL — Visit the downtown and you can find several places to get a bite to eat.

You can sip a drink and take in the view on decks overlooking the Merrimack River.

If you’re looking for art work or other Christmas gifts, there are plenty of shops to choose from.

But can you get a tattoo? You bet.

As the city center reinvents itself with a mix of restaurants, salons, antique stores and other businesses, it has also become home to a tattoo parlor, the city’s only such establishment.

It’s a stylish place that on the outside tips its hat to old-time tattoo artists whose images are displayed in the front window and throughout the shop.

Inside, the old wood and brick walls are covered in framed “flash” intended to get customers thinking about the image they might want to wear on their skin.

The days of tattoo parlors catering to a rough clientele have given way to trendy studios such as these, where young artists work diligently on men and women looking to make a visual statement with their bodies. From school teachers to accountants to nurses and lawyers to every kind of person and occupation, it seems as though everyone is getting a tattoo.

“Tattoos are in,” said Frankie Piessens, owner of the new Washington Square Tattoo shop. “Turn on the television and you’ll find programs about tattoos and tattoo shops. It’s not like it was years ago. It’s definitely come out of the sketchy back allies and into the mainstream.”

Piessens, 30, a 2001 graduate of Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, opened his shop three months ago and since then his business has been growing.

“Every day someone turns 18 so there’s a new crop of customers every day,” he said. “A lot of kids who turn 18 are psyched about getting their first real tattoo.

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