Town vote opens door for tattoos, piercings at mall

Carolina Place Mall will soon be home to a new tattoo and piercing studio after Pineville Town Council voted 3-2 to approve a text amendment change to add tattoo and piercing as a permitted use by right in certain situations in the town’s planned business district.

The board was split on the vote Tuesday, Feb. 11, with Mayor Pro-tem Melissa Rogers Davis and Councilwoman Debbie Fowler voting the proposal down and Councilmen Les Gladden and David Phillips pushing the text change through. Mayor Jack Edwards broke the tied vote, siding with Gladden and Phillips.

“I’m not comfortable with that being in the mall,” Rogers Davis said of the self-described “top of the line” Déjà Vu Tattoo and Piercing store.

Rogers Davis, along with Fowler, feel tattoo parlors do not belong in malls around families and children. But the rest of the board saw the new business as more of an opportunity to place the business where they would prefer it.

“If you put it somewhere like a street, you could have people there you wouldn’t want,” Gladden said at the meeting. “In the mall, it is a controlled atmosphere. They’re not going to put up with people hanging out there. (Déjà Vu) is intentionally picking a place that will intentionally keep the riffraff out. I kind of see (Déjà Vu) as a tattoo-type place that goes beyond” the normal standards.

Council also approved specific restrictions for tattoo and piercing uses in Pineville that only allows one location per property or tax parcel with a minimum lot size of 45 acres. The business can only be located in a shopping center with a minimum size of 900,000 square feet. Currently, Carolina Place Mall is the only development in the planned business district that meets these requirements.

Déjà Vu offers tattoos, body piercings, permanent cosmetics and make-up and some jewelry, clothing and accessories retail, according to the business’s website,

The mission of the business is to help change the face and break stereotypes of “back alley” tattoo and piercing shops, Déjà Vu representative Michelle McMasters told Pineville leaders at last month’s public hearing. Officials with Déjà Vu have tried to create a professional atmosphere and follow strict rules on health and sterilization, age limits and restrictions on inappropriate piercings and tattoos, she added.

“Wouldn’t you rather have someone that is going to make sure people are in a safe area?” McMasters said last month. “(We) have some kind of social responsibility to our community. We give back to our community,” McMasters added. “It’s not a hangout spot.”

Council asked Déjà Vu owner and founder Mitchell Brown to consider another area in Pineville rather than inside the mall, but Brown suggested the idea wasn’t true to the business’s original mission.

“I don’t want to be put in the category of (other tattoo and piercing businesses) found in an alley. I don’t want to place my concept in the confines of that. It’s not what we do; it’s not what I want to be,” Brown said. “With guidance from the mall, extra protection from the mall – that’s what we know. That’s what we’re used to.”

Gladden, Phillips and Edwards were hesitant, yet satisfied with Brown’s and McMasters’s commitments to keep loiters out, keep children safe and stick closely with mall hours, even adding in terms for the business to open and close with regular mall hours.


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