Last Updated: Monday, March 20, 2017, 4:52 PM EDT
The Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks are home to shells, sponges and seafood.
But there's a new business in town.
- Dream House Ink opened its doors in January
- Owners says it took some convincing with city, landlords
- Half of the clientele is over 40
For the first time, the sponge docks is home to a tattoo parlor. Dream House Ink opened its doors in January.
For owner Angelo Kotzamanis, opening up shop on the historic strip was a dream.
"We knew it would be next to impossible,” Kotzamanis said.
Kotzamanis spent three months in talks with the City of Tarpon Springs.
"I had to have a couple meetings where, I hate to say convinced them, I had to educate them that a tattoo studio in Tarpon wouldn't be a bad thing," he said.
The City finally agreed, but the next step was even tougher. Kotzamanis had to find a landlord to rent to him.
"We got more 'no’s' then you could ever imagine," Kotzamanis said. "Literally, my real estate agent said they were hanging up on her within five minutes of finding out what business we wanted to open in Tarpon Springs."
Eventually an 80-year-old woman who has owned a building next to Rusty Bellies since the 1960s agreed to take a chance on Dream House Ink. In just the first three months, the tattoo parlor has already gained the approval of neighboring businesses.
"I think we need the diversity in the area," Rosie Markowitz, the manager at Tarpon Springs Olive Oil Company, said. "Mostly it's soaps and sponges and olive oil in the area, so to have something new down the street is pretty neat."
Speaking of diversity, the new location has also given Kotzamanis a new set of customers. He said more than half of his clientele is over 40 years old.
"Never before have I seen so many older people get their first tattoo," Kotzamanis said. "I know that sounds kind of silly, but they're willing and daring to walk in this tattoo studio today when they wouldn't before possibly being that we are in a historic trusted area of Tarpon Springs."