Plenty of places for a new tattoos around town

By Gus Bode

With another tattoo parlor moving in near campus, the ink in Carbondale might be drying up.

Rocksteady Tattoos, located at 715 S. University Ave., opened recently as the fourth tattoo parlor in downtown Carbondale, and the fifth in the city. The owner of Rocksteady could not be reached for comment, but others in the tattoo business say, despite the large, transient university population, four shops downtown may be too many.

Darren Ashbaugh, owner of Golgatha Tattoos, said having three shops in the city made things very competitive and had a big impact on business. The addition of the fourth parlor could put somebody out of business, he said.


“Three shops has a big impact on town,” Ashbaugh said. “I don’t know if the town is big enough for four shops in town and one outside.”

He said business at his shop, located at 703 S. Illinois Ave., flows with the student population. When students are around during the fall and the spring, business is fairly consistent, but it drops off during the summer and over winter break, he said.

“The student population is always changing, so there is more people coming and going,” Ashbaugh said. “As one cycle leaves, a new one is coming in, so there is always more people getting tattoos.”

Roger Zeigler, an artist at Tuff Luck Tattoos, located at 2355 Sweets Dr. across from Houlihan’s, said he has not seen a lot of growth in the Carbondale tattoo market. He said he doesn’t expect Tuff Luck to feel the impact of another parlor because they tend to serve people who live outside of Carbondale.

Tuff Luck employs five full-time artists and two full-time piercers, and Zeigler said they pull in a lot of customers from Illinois Route 13. Their location allows them to focus on different customers than the in-town shops, he said.

Ziegler and Ashbaugh both said the shops in town focus heavily on the student population, so the piece of the pie downtown gets smaller with each tattoo parlor that opens.

But the extra competition may not be negative across the board. Ashbaugh said tattoo artists get to choose from a wide array of equipment and suppliers, so customers should shop around to find the place that suits them best.


The other tattoo parlors in Carbondale are Dragon Master Tattooing, located at 217 W. Main St., and Hard Times Tattoos, located at 205 W. Walnut St.

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