, a brand new tattoo parlor located at 16-23 River Road, opened its doors in late November and has being doing steady business ever since, owner Bruce Walker said Wednesday at the .
“We’ve gotten a great reception from a lot of the town people,” said Walker, a Saddle Brook resident. “Just opening up and having this many customers is a great experience, and it just shows that we’re going to be here for a while.”
Walker said the affordable prices and welcoming service are what primarily distinguish Jerzey Tat from its competitors.
“We’re not here to rob anybody,” he said. “We treat everyone here like they’re family. You come in the door and you’re going to get greeted. We’re going to take care of you.”
Walker said the quality of Jerzey Tat’s three primary artists –Steven Ortiz, Alec Albert, Jr. and Georgia Mollica – is also top notch.
“It’s all about the custom here,” Walker said. “It’s more of a, you come in and you want something that nobody else has, and that’s we want to give you -- that one-of-a-kind piece of artwork.”
In their down time, the artists often can be found doodling pencil sketches of their next creations. A framed display of Albert’s custom sketches already adorns the shop’s walls and work by the other artists’ will go up soon, Walker said.
“We draw a lot in here,” he said. “It keeps the skills sharp, so we’ll just doodle and come up with designs off the top of the head and we just post them up here and people come in and just love them and pick them out and want them done.”
Walker's also working on becoming a bona fide tattoo artist himself, and recently attended a two-week tattooing course in New York. Since the shop opened, he’s been apprenticing with each of his artists, sticking to smaller, less extravagant pieces and charging a flat $50 rate for his work.
“I’ve actually done a couple of tattoos already with the assistance of my guys,” he said. “I’m learning as I go and these guys are great teachers.”
Each of the artists has a different style, Walker said, so customers can get a variety of artwork done, be it urban art or graffiti-style lettering from Ortiz, custom art from Albert or water coloring and portraits from Mollica.
Walker, who has run a small side art business hand-painting piggy banks and step stools for years, said he decided to open Jerzey Tat to escape the revolving door of retail management, which had been his full-time job for 13 years.
“There’s no career, no future,” Walker said of retail. “I’m married with two kids, so I decided to take my career to a different path.”
He originally considered working in law enforcement as a correctional officer, but an injury at the police training academy in Sea Girt forced him to put that dream on hold.
“I tore a ligament and a tendon in my ankle, tore up my knee. Had to go through numerous surgeries to get it fixed,” he said. “I got cleared to go back to work, but not back to the academy due to the injury. So I had a decision to make – go back to retail or do something on my own.”
Walker said his love of art and belief in the future of the industry made him decide to open his own tattoo shop.
“I feel that this is a growing business. It still has a lot to go and I want to be there as it’s growing,” he said. “So I decided to do my own thing right now, be my own boss.
Walker said his small hand-painting operation and retail experience, which involved managing stores and doing their books, prepared him for his current job as small business owner.
“It’s been an exciting venture. You never know what to expect and I’m really excited that I have a lot of people already coming in here our first week open,” he said. “I myself am booked for this weekend. Steven is booked, Alec is booked. We have a lot of customers coming in that are looking for work from us.”
Jerzey Tat has three tattooing stations, each equipped for privacy, and uses both Mom’s and Intenze tattoo inks.
Customers are free to walk in and browse tat offerings and chat with the staff, but an appointment is required to get actual work done.
Discounts on tattoos are offered to police officers and firefighters.
A website is in the works, but not yet up-and-running, so Walker recommends prospective customers check out the Jerzey Tat Facebook page for the latest info and pictures of finished works. You can reach the shop by phone at 201-773-9311.