Roseboro’s first tattoo parlor is officially open in downtown, and owner Ray Brock just recently hung the sign beckoning visitors to come in and peruse his offerings.
Big Papa’s Tattoo Studio is across the street from Glow Day Spa, and the location is full of edgy art.
“My mother passed away last July,” explained Brock during a recent interview. “Our family has property on Bonnettsville Road. I moved back here because I wanted to be closer to them.”
The tattoo parlor is only the second one of its kind in the county, and Brock acknowledged that he’s faced a few hurdles to get it open.
“Clinton won’t allow a tattoo shop,” he explained, “and I couldn’t open in the county.” Sampson County, he said, doesn’t allow the parlors, either, so the entrepreneur had no other choice but to seek out a town where he could start up his business.
“I wanted to come home,” Brock reiterated. “I’ve spent the last eight years in Fayetteville tattooing, and I have 20 years doing it.”
He’s lived other places, but the draw to return home was strong enough to get him to choose Roseboro.
“I opened my shop about two weeks ago,” he said. “I’ve been working on it for three months. I’ve spent all my energy on the shop and trying to move.” He has hopes to have a grand opening and is still working on the details.
A new business in downtown signals growth for community leaders who want to see people return to the area.
“We are trying to get new businesses, especially with the new road coming in,” said Roseboro Mayor David Alexander in a telephone interview Tuesday. “We don’t want people to pass by Roseboro.”
Brock is happy to be a part of the Roseboro business community and is thrilled that he was granted permission to open his business in the western Sampson town.
“I’ve had to get the zoning and permission from the town,” Brock mentioned. “It’s a one man operation right now.”
His building, he said, used to house a hair salon. He’s made some improvements he said, pointing to the counters he had installed and the partially enclosed wall he built.
He has a picture of W.D. Hall, a former Sampson County Sheriff, hanging on the wall, a man, Brock said he was related to. “I grew up around here,” he said, attesting to his roots and one reason he wanted to be where he now is.
“I hope to get my daughter moved here too,” Brock added.
For him the biggest challenge has been dealing with the stress of getting things going. He said that it’s been worth it overall, though.
“A lot (of people) don’t realize I’m here yet,” he said, gesturing at the new sign. “I’m getting the word out.” Brock has his new signage, and when the highway goes up Roseboro is going to be putting in new signage.
“We want big signs directing towards Roseboro,” said Mayor Alexander. “Right now we are continuing to grow.”
“Plus I’m the only other licensed tattoo parlor in the county,” Brock said. “I have clients that come from Fayetteville and Erwin.” Brock hopes to draw in other out of towners as well, who will come and spend money in the local businesses, just like he has been doing. He said he is buying supplies locally to support the local economy as well.
He said he’s learned a few things about starting his own business, like making sure that he has permission to open before getting his zoning approved. He’s also had to learn his market and client’s needs.
“Sometimes I’m fixing a tattoo,” he said. “Sometimes clients come in that need something fixed that wasn’t done well by a different artist.
“I have to be prepared for anything coming through that door,” he explained.
Hard work is what it is going to take to get downtown Roseboro resuscitated, and that is on the forefront of the minds of the mayor and other town leaders, especially with the highway expansion.
“I don’t know how it’s going to pan out, but we’re waiting to see what happens,” Alexander said about the N.C. 24 project.”
But activity in the town is a plus.
“Renovations are under way at the old NAPA store…and we are hoping to use the STEP grant downtown.” The town is also looking into putting in an outdoor movie theater behind Rupert’s Furniture, with the side of a building as a screen. Hopes are that it will turn into a drive-in style movie location where people can bring their own chairs.
“We are going to have to get together and come up with something quick,” he added.
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122. Follow us on Twitter: @SampsonInd