First-ever regulated tattoo shop opens in downtown Kinston

KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) – A new tattoo shop is open today in Kinston. Mayor Don Hardy said it’s the first one the city’s ever had in its 26-block downtown. We stopped by to hear from business owners and city leaders.

“Happy to be downtown, happy to be back in Kinston. It’s a big move,” said owner Brandon Corey.

A storefront that once sat empty is now the home of House of Ink tattoo shop. Owner Brandon Corey used to own a shop under the same name in Greenville but had to sell it due to health issues in 2021.

“I was in the hospital with Covid, and I had Covid pneumonia,” he said. “I was told that I would need a ventilator, and if I hit the ventilator I more or less wasn’t coming home.”

But he recovered, with a renewed passion for owning a shop close to home. Their new spot at 111 North Queen Street now holds what Corey said is the first state-regulated tattoo studio in the 26 block business district, due to a unified ordinance against them that existed for decades – one that had to be overcome.

“It was basically an ordinance change, so to speak, or zoning type of change that we made, and it was for the good,” said Mayor Don Hardy.

Corey plans to use the space for more than just tattoos and piercings.

“When you come by the shop, it’s not gonna be your average tattoo studio,” said Corey. “We are going to feature art from local artists, whether it be paintings, photography, different forms of art.”

Zac Holcomb’s storefront is a short walk away. He said any addition to downtown boosts surrounding businesses.

“You get more people walking in front of these storefronts, the value of them goes up. More people are gonna see the value there, and more people are gonna wanna rent these spaces,” said Holcomb.

Hardy hopes their opening inspires more entrepreneurs to consider the area.

“I’m excited to see that and excited to see him pull folks downtown, and we look forward to filling those empty spaces that are adjacent to him,” Hardy said.

The shop will be open from Wednesday through Saturday, from noon to 8 p.m.

Corey is renting that space and said the spots on either side of him are being worked on as well.

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