April 30, 2018
Shop Talk

Baby ear piercings, and tattoos to rival Picasso

Photo | Brad Kane
Marc Williams, of the Piercing Emporium & Tattoo in Worcester

VIEW: Baby ear piercings, and tattoos to rival Picasso

Marc Williams

Title: Owner and head body piercer

Company: Piercing Emporium & Tattoo

Location: Worcester

Founded: 1995

Employees: 13

Age: 41

Birthplace: Worcester

Residence: Auburn

Education: Holy Name Central Catholic High School, Worcester Technical High School, apprenticed under Worcester piercer for 1.5 years, New York City seminars from Gauntlet and its owner
Jim Ward

After leaving its original Plantation Street home in 1999, Marc Williams operated his piercing and tattoo parlor at the building he owns at 400 Shrewsbury St. for 19 years. As piercing and tattoos became more mainstream, Williams' revenue grew and he bought the property at 205 Shrewsbury St. in 2014. After tearing down a vacant mechanic's garage, he built a new copper-colored building, and moved the Piercing Emporium & Tattoo in on Dec. 18.

How's business been since the move?

Excellent. Absolutely awesome.

Clients appreciate it a lot more now that we have our own parking, our waiting room is bigger, we have more seating, and more space for moving around. In the old building, it was 1,800 square feet over two floors. Now, I have just under 3,000.

Does that help revenues?

I am much more visible to the general public now. People stop at the stoplight here, and they have to see my building. In the old building, I used to get calls from people who would say, "I can't find you," and they would be right across the street.

Now, our building stands out. I did a copper color on the outside of the building to stand out. Going up and down Shrewsbury Street, everything else is brick, siding or stucco. I didn't want the same cookie-cutter look.

Are piercings or tattoos more popular?

The piercing is a lot busier than the tattooing. It is a quicker process, and it is more age-friendly. We pierce infants here, which we prefer doing instead of the gun piercing, since the gun is more contaminated and more painful. The piercing is more temporary, since if you don't like the piercing, you can take it out. For a tattoo, you have to have it laser removed.

You've done piercings on infants?

I've done ear piercings on as young as a 3-week-old child. My oldest client is 92 years old. The general age bracket is 16-30. For tattoos, we don't do under 18.

Why are piercings more mainstream?

It is a lot more socially acceptable. The evolution of it has changed quite a bit over the last 20 years, but there are other aspects of it making it more popular.

We have gotten a lot busier as a result because people see the beauty in it. If the jewelry for the piercing had a gem in it 20 years ago, you were lucky. Everything just had a plain stainless steel bar or ring. There was very little color. Today, everything has been beautified. I have a piece for my septum. It is an $800 gold piece with genuine Swarovski gems in it.

I have school teachers come in with multiple ear cartilage piercings, and the jewelry is so beautiful that people want to look at it. That ends up getting me referrals, because one person will say something to another. The whole industry is just exploding.

How about tattoos?

The artwork in tattooing has drastically changed. Tattoos from 20 years ago don't have the same artwork as you do today. The art today rivals Van Gogh and Picasso; what people did on canvas is now being done on the living canvas.

The piece I have tattooed on my arm is the traditional ship-in-a-bottle look, but it is so much more intricate than what you would have had previously. The ship itself is the USS Cabot, which is the ship where my grandfather served in the Korean War. Also, my grandfather taught me how to make wine, which he learned from his father. So, the bottle on my tattoo is a red-wine bottle with the ship he was on, and the water for the ocean is red wine. The detail is so specific that the first time I showed it to him, he said, "That's the Cabot. How did you know I was on that ship?"

What are you going to do with your old location?

We are renovating the building and turning it into apartments. I'm going to rent to employees and friends, so I am going to keep the rents very moderate.

What's next for you?

For me personally, I'm looking at buying a second studio, this one in the Boston area. I'm already in talks with someone about buying them out.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ Editor Brad Kane.

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