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  • Courtney Jette

Anchored and Afloat

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

“I am very worried that our country is very economically driven, and I do worry that they will open things up before it is actually ready to open back-up, and it will all be for nothing.” “I just hope, so badly, that this being shut down, the whole time, it really did help and it wasn’t just all for nothing.”

When I visited Spokane for The Shutdown Project, it was like a ghost town compared to how I’d always seen it. I was the only car in the lot, the streets were empty of pedestrians and the wind was literally howling through the giant, empty tunnels of its streets. The next shop has something in common with the salons; it's been closed since before the actual closure of the restaurants was announced, when everyone thought it was the start of the shutdown. I won’t keep needling on the subject of the ridiculousness of some businesses, like coffee shops, being open while others have been closed for two months. I’ll talk about the owner I met that had the most impressive attitude about the situation, yet the most accurate opinions about how it's being handled. This article is a long one for a reason, not just a showcase on an owner, but also a highlight on issues regarding the shutdown. Jeremy Corns, the owner and artist of Anchored Art Tattoo, should not just be running a tattoo parlor, and the new restaurant he and his wife opened recently, he should be running for a city official position. Walking up to Anchored, I spotted Jeremy’s ride before I spotted his shop.

A black, Chevy deluxe that looks to be around a 1950’s fastback, fleetside cruiser. One of the only cars parked on the street, and right in front of the shop, to make it more obvious how bad I am at finding store fronts. I can appreciate a lot about Jeremy. He is the only owner I’ve visited who has been wearing gloves and a mask; fully doing his part in so many ways, and ready to get back to work if everyone else can just do their part.

“The frustration doesn’t lie with the fact that there’s a virus and we have to be shut down. That’s fine, that’s understandable. The frustration lies that, okay, if you’re the state and you’re going to shut some things down, shut everything down and have a good quarantine for a few weeks. And really, really strap down and heavily enforce it. Then, hopefully, that initial ramp up (of the virus) will tremendously slow. So, it is just frustrating to me to look at all these places that are partially open.”

I definitely share a lot of common views on what’s been closed, and how, with Jeremy. He was saying exactly what I was thinking. Anyone else? We share a few, sad, ironic laughs over how packed places like Costco and large warehouse stores are; packed to the gills with people literally brushing shoulders and kids wandering around touching things.

“If you go to a grocery store, anywhere, so many people in close contact that there is absolutely no way that is going to help.”

His frustration is great over places being filled to the brim with people not wearing any PPE, and yet a shop that is cleaned with things I would never even mess with, is closed.

“After every single tattoo we do, we clean everything down with matacide, which is a harsh, heavy chemical cleaner. And we make sure that we are clean. A lot of us wear masks already, masks while we tattoo. And we would be extra cautious now.”

Jeremy tries to give the government a bit of quick-thinking credit and a reason he hopes this is all for, so he can be a bit positive about the situation.

“I am thinking now, that the reason tattoo shops, barber shops, nail and hair salons were shut down first, is if you are going to dye someone’s hair, nails, tattoo you probably have gloves on in the process. So, it freed up a tremendous amount of PPE for medical staff and stuff, and if that is the reason, I’m totally cool with it. And I think that IS one reason why they stopped these industries first. Just stopping tattooing in America, that alone, majorly frees up gloves. We have eleven artists here, and we go through a box a day of 200 gloves from Costco. That, over a week, times every artist in this city, state, next state, next state…makes a huge impact on freeing up medical equipment. So, if that’s the reason, you know, I’m totally cool with that. I just wish they would say that."

He makes a good case, but I feel if the state was making a smart judgment call like that, then they would definitely be boasting about it and telling us all about their reasoning.

“I completely understand why we got shut down. I just hope, so badly, that this being shut down the whole time, that it really did help and it wasn’t all for nothing. But the state needs to do a better job at really shutting stuff down because there is no one up there enforcing it.”

(Did you see my poll? 100% of the businesses I visited have not heard from any government agency at any point through the shutdown. Not about closing or anything. So, yes, enforcement, maybe a few rules, or guidelines... Anything really???) As do I. I think about all the shops that are completely closed and how all this could be dragged on by the fact that restaurants are serving food door-to-door, and lots of stores don’t have a customer limit. I feel not having a complete shutdown is going to permanently close a lot of businesses unnecessarily, but luckily, that’s not the case with Anchored. They will definitely be here when this is all over, and Jeremy will be back in stride with the 11 other tattoo artists that work full time at Anchored.

“Everybody is just trying to take care of each other and check in every day on each other. It is pretty cool. I mean, it is a lot of open-ended offers, I’m sure, and everyone is like, ‘No I’m good, I’m good.' But it’s just cool that people are even checking on each other.”

Anchored has been in its main street location for 9 years, and now they have an extension to their studio, a few floors up, giving them even more parlor space. They are 100% anchored and going nowhere, but I did still want to ask him what his concerns were with the shutdown.

*What about the shutdown has you most worried?

“Most worried? I could answer that question a lot of different ways.”

"Concerning the shop: The biggest worry for me is how it’s going to affect the families that are supported through our business. Most of our artists are family guys with families to support, and we’ve all been trying to help support each other’s families. Fortunately, there have been a couple of guys that we work with that have spoken up and said, ‘Hey, actually I do need help right now.’ ” So, we’ve been able to help, collectively help, each other. You know, pay some bills and stuff and that’s really cool.”

If that shows you how awesome this owner is and how he takes care of business, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say tattooing will never be the same. I don’t agree with that. I feel like tattoo will always come back strong. And we have such a great support system of clientele that I’m not worried about the work not being there when we open back up. I am hundred percent positive that we will open stronger than we’ve ever been just because we will be picking up slack however long we are going to be closed for.”

“Another concern is the protective equipment that we use to tattoo with. I am little worried about getting that stuff when we open back up because the supply is already limited. Will they continue to limit that supply for the next year or so? Or, what’s going to happen with that. So, to work we need gloves, masks, things like that. I hope that stuff is readily available when we are able to open back up.”

“As far as my worry outside of the shop? It’s that they open things back up when things are really safe. That they lift the ban when it is truly safe for everyone and that they don’t just base it off an economic standpoint and open things too early after having already shut everything down for so long. I am very worried that our country is very economically driven and that they will open things up before it is actually ready to open back-up and it will all be for nothing.”

A feeling, I hope, a lot of other owners and public are, themselves, thinking about. Our conversation had serious moments, and the flow was something I wish everyone could hear, because no matter how hard I try to tell these people’s stories, the words they speak have more power and emotion than my words on paper can show.

Jeremy and his wife moved to Spokane from California and started the tattoo shop from nothing.

“I went around, when we decided to move to the NW, to different shops, looking for a spot to work for a little while. But I didn’t want to start working somewhere, when I knew I wanted to open a shop, and do somebody wrong by leaving, you know. And so, I didn’t want any shop to feel like I used them to get clientele."

“Me and my wife are about creating things on our own. When we opened here, we had no clientele, no nothing. Just literally opened up the doors and waited for people to come and tried as hard as we could to grow from there. Lots and lots of hustle up to the point we got shutdown. Every single day, trying as hard as we can, just push and push and push.

And trust me, they built an empire. The first shop progressed so well they took over the storefront next to them when that business closed. Fast forward a bit, and they had to expand up, as well. This family of artists, and the guy who runs it, are obviously growing in every direction. That doesn’t just come from the amazing tattoos they create, it also comes from how genuine and real these guys are. That’s some of the reasons 75% of Anchored's artists are booked over a year out.

“I feel our shop, especially our shop, is very inviting, inviting to all walks of life. We have a very supportive clientele that have become family. It is a huge support group. I can’t even tell you the clients that have reached out to me, telling me, 'Thinking of you guys every day. If you need anything at all... How’s it going.' ”

The support in Spokane seems to come from every direction.

“Small business thrives here. There are a lot of small business throughout Spokane. It is not a very corporate town. There are just a lot of people here that are about supporting local business. Even the little town we live in, Nine Mile Falls, out on Long Lake, it's like 9,000 people. We own a restaurant up there and they are about supporting small business, to keep them open through this whole thing, if we can.”

I wish we had more citizens like Jeremy in the TriCities, and I can’t wait to meet more like him. Spokane is definitely winning with him as a community member and overall staple to the downtown. (Open a branch in TriCities, please.) The story of how he and his wife chose Spokane for their home brought a little laugh to the visit. *So, you moved here in 2011. What made you pick Spokane? “My wife said, ’Hey, let’s see this google search thing called Where Should I Live'. You answer 200 questions and, basically, it chooses the demographic from your main answers and gives you three choices. She is like, 'If we haven’t been there before we are going there this weekend.' Cool, I said, let’s do it. So, it came up with Spokane and she asked if I knew anything about Spokane. I said, nope. I don’t even know exactly where it is at, really. So, we flew here and I felt like I was in a movie. People were so nice. Housing prices were affordable, everywhere we went there were families out doing stuff. It seemed like a very inviting place. There was a downtown, but there wasn’t like, downtown LA, where it is just so crazy with so many people. Here there’s no traffic, there’s no smog…it’s a great place to be. There are parks, and rivers and lakes. It is the perfect mixture, I said. “Yeah. I live in the forest, but I work in the city every day. I’m a city boy, I lived my whole life in the city. I was not ready to move to the woods, but I love it now. We moved here because of how inviting Spokane seemed. And it is continually growing to be a better and better place.” “We had enough money saved to where we could have moved anywhere in the United States, right then, and lived for about a year and half, and we chose Spokane. It seemed like a safe place to relocate our children to, and there is still a city, so tattooing would still be good. And, any direction that you leave Spokane, you’ve got rolling plains, desert, forest, and deep canyons. You feel like you are in a completely different part of the US within 20 minutes, half hour, in any direction from here.” Sounding like the spokesman for Spokane, just listening to him talk about his city, made me proud, too ha-ha, and he’s not just proud of his area and community…. “It is very interesting to me how, I think, people have done a really good job when things first shut down. An instant thought people had was that this huge doom and gloom was on its way, and America was going to collapse. Gun stores were sold out of ammo. There were lines of people buying it. Cabela’s sold out of ammo completely, CABELA’S! A gigantic store, he laughs. The ammo aisles were completely empty. In a situation like that, you know you are kind of just interested in how people are going react." “I am proud of humanity in this moment because people have responded extremely well. There aren’t riots going on and people aren’t looting everything, everywhere. The interesting thing is, this is not just our industry, it’s not just our state, it’s not just our country, it is the whole entire world that is affected by covid and every single, different industry and walk of life.

You know, it doesn’t pick race, religion, nothing like that; covid puts everybody on an even playing field.” “I think one of the benefits from this happening is it has helped people realize what is truly important in life. I think that it has brought a lot of family value back. I’ve got two daughters and a wife at home. We work so much as it is, that it has been a nice family reset to be at home and spend quality time with your kids. To be there at night for them when they are going to sleep, and be there in the evenings when they eat dinner, and things like that. Family time, just realizing, again, what is really important in the world." I, too, am pleasantly surprised with how most people are behaving during this strange time. But he gave me a little peek into how the tattoo industry is handling it, as well… “Nothing like this has happened in our lifetime. It is a learning experience for all of us that realize people need each other, to depend on each other. You know everyone must help each other, that’s why I feel very proud of the tattoo industry. For really shutting down. I feel like the tattoo industry has policed itself on making sure that other shops are shut down. I’ve seen it numerous times and I’ve posted it numerous times, and I’ve seen numerous tattoo artists posting, ‘I better not find out that any other shops are open and operating when we are all shut down doing what we are supposed to do’, because you are either part of the problem or you are part of the solution. I think the tattoo industry has always kind of policed itself. We’ve seen artists really come together: ‘Hey we do need to close stuff down, please, so that we can all get back to work sooner’. You know the longer people drag their feet, the more that people don’t listen and go against authority and be like, ‘I’m not shutting down’, it’s not helping anything. It is going to do is make it worse for everybody and make it take longer. It has been very cool to see the tattoo industry take this seriously and donate supplies. I’ve seen shops all over the world donating supplies and making sure that there is a bulk inventory of gloves that they are donating…that they are trying to do charitable things to help people and their community.” Being an artist myself I sort of knew the answer already, but I had to ask the question… *Do you have a favorite tattoo you’ve created? “No. I like everything that I tattoo. I like them all. I like every different style. I just love tattooing. I can’t even tell you how much I love tattooing. I love that I can tattoo every day and do this to have a really good life, and make people happy. It is just a great place to be. I get to work with all my best friends, every single day. We’ve got a killer vibe in here. There is great music, and you get the chance to show people what’s cool and expose people to different things.” “I think the coolest thing was when I walked into a tattoo shop when I was younger; just the music and the vibe in there. I was like, ‘This is the coolest place on earth.’ I feel very fortunate to be a part of that for anybody else that feels the same way, that walks through the door, that we can give them a good experience. They can come and have a good time, and laugh, get a great tattoo, and leave happy. Then you are winning every day.” And even though I visited the shop when it was empty of clients and the other artists, no music, no buzzing, no chatter, it wasn’t bright, I could tell that space was an awesome place to be on a regular day at Anchored. It was even a great time 6 feet apart and wearing masks, because like I said before, it’s not just about the outstanding art, it’s because of the outstanding people who work at Anchored. When I finally get the first of many tattoos on my list (I have a folder of artwork) there’s no way I won’t be hitting these guys up, a year ahead of time, and getting on their schedules, asap. Although, with all the catching up they are going to be doing, maybe I should call two years out. 6189 People Reached

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