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Well-known Warren tattoo shop to christen new parlor

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple Aaron Chine of Warren, owner of The Box Gallery tattoo parlor, recently moved the shop to its new location on West Market Street in downtown Warren. The shop previously was on nearby David Grohl Alley.

WARREN — There is no getting wrong the service offered at the newest storefront around downtown’s Courthouse Square.

Large steel letters on the signboard bluntly state: Tattoo.

Not tattoos, plural, but singular tattoo — a nod to the throwback tattoo parlors, said Aaron Chine, owner of The Box Gallery, a well-known shop that’s open in a new location — a move that coincides with Chine’s renewed zest for life, from work to fly fishing.

Chine has been a tattoo artist for 17 years, the last seven spent at his old shop two buildings down from the new space on West Market Street that had its soft opening last week.

“It’s hard not to get emotional sometimes,” said Chine of Warren. “It’s so special, too … when I first started tattooing, I was tattooing for money to party and go on trips and stuff, but now I’m tattooing to feed my kids, so it just puts a whole ‘nother fire underneath you.”

“I recently made a ton of life changes, too. I just have this whole new fire for life, tattooing and fishing, and I’m more motivated now that I have ever been and having this space to do it in, it’s just like …” said Chine, making a sound in his voice box of satisfaction and achievement. “I get to leave this to my son.”

He and his wife, Amanda, owner of the headband company, MandaBees, purchased the building at 169 W. Market St. about seven years ago. It was his goal to use the ground floor as a tattoo parlor, but the couple ended up renting it to BLUSH Spa. When, Chine said, BLUSH decided to relocate and expand in Howland, the time was right to move out of the space he rented on the second floor of nearby 179 W. Market St. and into the new home.

“It was definitely an everybody wins type of thing. I’m not super religious, but I believe in things happening karmically. I didn’t want to throw them out of here and move the shop in,” Chine said. “I wanted to move in here like we did yesterday (Tuesday) and have a great feeling about it.”

He started renovating the space in July, investing about $20,000 of his own money to transform it into a mostly open floor plan with a communal feel.

The interior work was done mostly by Chine, whose work background includes plumbing and pipefitting, after his tattooing day ended. It included removing the ceiling, partially tearing down some walls, building a new front counter and installing wood flooring. Friends helped with painting the exposed ceiling and putting in the new floor.

Exterior work included removing an awning for the new steel sign, and installing gold vinyl window decals and a porcelain tile entry that mimics the feel of wood, connecting the exterior to the interior.

The shop has four tattooing spaces and other space for microblading. Chine also plans to bring on a piercer now that Warren officials in July lifted the ban on piercing in the city. He said he plans to start on a smaller scale with boutique-style piercing parties before someone comes on board full-time to provide the service.

Chine’s tattooing space is decorated with his art and other items that relate to his personal interests, including a golden fish and fishing rod made by and given to him by his father. It’s tribute to his love of fly fishing; Chine takes a hiatus from tattooing in November and March to lead fly fishing expeditions with Pennsylvania-based Steelhead Alley Outfitters.

A distinct difference in the new shop from the old is its open floor plan. Next door, the old shop had cubicle-style walls, which, Chine said, gave it the feel of a cubicle job.

Another big difference, the main entrance fronts West Market Street. The entrance before was in the rear on David Grohl Alley. Chine said he’s already seen a difference.

“We were open yesterday (Tuesday) and we already had like six walk-ins,” he said. “It’s super visible.”

AT THE RIGHT TIME

Downtown Warren is on the comeback; tons of people attend the weekly outdoor River Rock at the Amp concert series, its bar restaurant scene is on fire — from West & Main to Beautiful Whirl’d to Nova Coffee Co. and the new Noodlefun to Saratoga to Modern Methods Brewing Company to others — and events at the Robins Theatre draw large crowds.

Rick Stockburger, president / CEO of BRITE Energy Innovators on West Market Street, has had a front row seat for most of it. He’s led the agency for about five years, a period that has seen quite a bit of change downtown.

BRITE is the state’s only energy startup incubator in the state, but works with technology people from across the U.S.

He said people who visit the facility are “blown away” something that would be found in Silicon Valley exists in Warren, but it’s not a differentiating factor.

What is a differentiating factor is a vibrant community that offers a cool place to live and work, he said.

“What they are amazed by is that you’re in a downtown that you can walk to a coffee shop like Nova, there is a brewery, a cool tattoo shop … that is what surprises people,” said Stockburger.

“Over the last five years since I have been here I have seen the quality of what we are doing without losing the character. You’re seeing a West & Main and Noodlefun, but we still have the Saratoga,” said Stockburger, noting the mix of established and new businesses in Warren that are found in other modern cities.

Book an appointment

The Box Gallery tattoo parlor in downtown Warren will celebrate its new shop at 169 W. Market St. today with a grand opening party 2 to 6 p.m. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be at 3 p.m.

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