“Basically, I was just discriminated against because I have tattoos and the people I would employ and serve have tattoos.” Al Brodeur said after the Village of Palatine Council denied his request to open a tattoo parlor on Rand Road Monday night.
“It is ignorance,” Brodeur said, “They have some dreamland as to what Palatine is supposed to be and it’s not, just look around.”
“This isn’t the kind of business Palatine needs, it’s nothing against the petitioner,” Councilman Greg Solberg said, “I just don’t think it reflects well on the people of Palatine.”
After nearly an hour of discussion and testimonies Brodeur said he was surprised at the council’s decision. “Their mind was made up before I even walked in the door,” Brodeur said, “It’s closed mindedness that’s sinking this town.”
The only council member to voice their opposition before the vote, Solberg admittedly said, “I try be open minded but philosophically I have my problems with it.” Solberg said because of the stigma that is attached to it, a tattoo parlor would bring a bad image to Palatine.
“I have tattoos and I’m clean cut,” Brodeur said in his initial presentation to the council, “All I want to do is go to work with the eight other people I plan on hiring in a private building in Palatine.” Brodeur said, “I know what you’re looking for and that’s what I want, I very low-key, high class place.”
At $125-$150 an hour Brodeur said his tattoo parlor would cater to people with disposable incomes. “It would be appointment based, not a lot of walk-ins,” Brodeur said, “These are artists who are booked for months, we wouldn’t have to do a lot of advertising.” Brodeur told the council he would not use the word tattoo on the sign at 2001 N. Rand Road.
While no one questioned Brodeur’s qualifications, knowledge or intentions, people focused on the stigma associated with tattoos and tattoo parlors. After Brodeur left the podium two Palatine residents stepped up to urge the council to vote down the proposal.
“I was surprised to hear another tattoo parlor request in Palatine, I was just here six months ago for the very same reason,” said Palatine resident, Laurie Acevedo.
“What just happened at Rand Grove Village should have been an eye-opener for all of us,” Acevedo said there are many other issues that need to be addressed. “I believe we should be focusing on the bigger picture in Palatine,” Acevedo said, “We should not be here every six months to talk about tattoo parlors.”
According to Acevedo, a tattoo parlor would perpetuate problems in the area. Acevedo said a tattoo parlor just does not belong in her hometown and it shouldn’t even be up for a vote. “It’s not for the betterment of the family environment in Palatine,” Acevedo said.
Next up to the podium, the first of Brodeur's two supporters was Jill Giglio, owner of the City Limits Harley Davidson motorcycle dealership who spoke in favor of the tattoo parlor in Palatine. According to Giglio, Chicagoland Electric Tattoo is just what the area needs to attract new customers and boost business. “Verde Plaza is generating a whole lot of nothing right now and this would bring good business in,” Giglio said.
Addressing the council Giglio said, “When I hear all this talk of stigmas I think gee whiz, we should never open up another bar or another restaurant because it will only attract drunks and increase DUIs.”
Times have changed, Giglio said the Village of Palatine needs to get with the times and let go of an outdated and unfair stigma.
“I want to show you a picture of my husband,” Giglio said as she held up her phone to the Village Council. Giglio’s husband, Navy Cmdr. Anthony "Ozzie" Giglio is on a tour of duty in the Middle East. “He’s fighting the war, he’s a firefighter and he works part-time at the dealership,” Giglio said as she started to tear up, “Here a picture of my husband and here are his tattoos.” Still holding up her phone with her husband’s photo on display Giglio asked, “Does this make him a hoodlum, a drug dealer or a criminal?” Answering her own question, Giglio said firmly, “No, it certainly does not.”
According to a 2006 study by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 24 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo. “That’s 73 million people and this is a $2.3 billion industry,” Brodeur said it’s one of the few businesses that has not been affected by the recession.
But starting a new business, creating jobs and generating tax revenue in Palatine was not enough to overcome the stigma attached to tattoos and tattoo parlors.
“It would project a negative image on the surrounding neighborhood,” said council member Solberg.
Brodeur said with so many vacant storefronts in Palatine, he doesn’t understand what the village is waiting for.
“Let’s just hope and pray a business moves in?” Brodeur said, “No one is going to go in there. This town is dying faster then they can catch it,” said Brodeur.