Helix Tattoo Lodge and 3rd Street Parlor are the latest new businesses to open in Oxford
● By Steven Hoffman
There was a lot of excitement in downtown Oxford last Friday evening as two new businesses—the Helix Tattoo Lodge and 3rd Street Parlor—celebrated their grand openings.
In addition to being located next to each other on Third Street, the two businesses share a common denominator: Both have young owners who have strong ties to the Oxford community.
Jesus Garcia, the proprietor of the 3rd Street Parlor, graduated from Oxford Area High School in 2012 and still lives in the community. Justin Holcombe owns and operates Helix Tattoo Lodge with his business partner Josh Sargable, and he said that he views opening a business in Oxford as a homecoming.
By the middle of the afternoon last Friday, the Helix Tattoo Lodge was buzzing with activity as the staff and clients celebrated the opening of a second location for the business. The first location is in nearby Cecil County, so many people in the area are well aware of the strong reputation that the business has.
“We had a lot of momentum for this,” said Holcombe. He and Sargable have assembled an award-winning team of tattoo artists bringing their work to downtown Oxford.
Holcombe explained that the Oxford location will have four stations featuring eight professional artists working in rotation for the best possible experience for customers. The award-winning staff of local artists specialize in every tattoo style imaginable, from photo-realism to ornamental, and are able to execute any project from the simplest designs to the most difficult cover ups and body suits.
Oxford Borough Mayor Lorraine Bell was at the shop when it opened at noon so that she could get a tattoo. She got the word “believe” tattooed on her arm, with a semicolon at the end. The semicolon tattoo has become very popular in recent years—it represents the perseverance against mental health struggles and of suicide prevention.
This is the first tattoo studio to open in Oxford in the borough’s history. Holcombe said that this is actually the third different time during his career that he has opened the first tattoo business in a town.
Bell said that the Helix Tattoo Lodge offers something new and different for borough residents and visitors.
All it takes is a quick look at the portfolios of the tattoo artists to understand the incredibly creative and detailed work that they are capable of. From a remarkably creative Philadelphia Eagles tattoo to an elaborate nature scene to a stunning image of Freddy Krueger that has what Holcombe calls an “illusion of protrusion” that makes the star of “Nightmare on Elm Street” appear to be three-dimensional, the work is stunning. Helix Tattoo will be a destination for people to come to Oxford because of the quality of the work.
While Holcombe himself has won awards for the work, he loves to talk about the talents of the other staff members.
Helix Tattoo utilizes the latest technology, Holcombe said, and putting that technology into the hands of talented and creative tattoo artists produces incredible results.
“Every artist sees the world through their own lens,” Holcombe explained.
Brad Newlin has 15 years of experience as a tattoo artist. He can do tattoos in color, but he is also very good with black and gray tattoos.
Kat Lawrence, who is from Oxford, honed her artistic skills while working at Eldreth Pottery. Those skills now translate well to being a tattoo artist, Holcombe said.
Rachel Carlini is an illustrator with extraordinary ability. Sometimes, the artists team up to complete a tattoo, with each person using his or her particular skills to produce the best results. Carlini, for example, might do the initial drawing.
“She can draw anything that a person can imagine,” Holcombe said.
Aly Sill is skilled at the new school style and in watercolors. There are also three apprentices working at Helix Tattoo—Elle Baer, Mikey Isun, and Shannon Rubican.
Holcombe said that television shows featuring tattoo artists has really changed the industry.
“You have a lot more people wanting to be tattoo artists now,” he said, explaining that the competition makes it even more important to do good work.
For Holcombe, opening a business in Oxford is special. He grew up in the area, and his grandfather was a well-known family doctor who treated generations of Oxford residents.
“This is like a homecoming for me,” Holcombe said. “When I first started tattooing, this is where I envisioned it.”
Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. executive director Brian Wenzka said that the Helix Tattoo is a welcome addition to the downtown.
“We think this is a great fit for Oxford,” Wenzka said. “Tattoos are for everybody now. It spans every economic group.”
Garcia and his staff were welcoming clients as well on Friday, as 3rd Street Parlor started offering men’s haircuts and shaving services. An old-fashioned barber shop pole is a clear illustration that Garcia takes a lot of pride in the business.
Garcia said that he really likes that, as a hair stylist, he can help people feel good about themselves by providing them with a good haircut. He first started learning how to cut hair more than a decade ago.
Garcia’s team includes Alex Salinas and Jorge Alvarez. Salinas, who was busy giving a client a trim while the grand opening celebration was taking place, said that he really enjoys interacting with clients.
Alvarez first started training to cut hair six years ago when he was just 16 years old. He took vo-tech classes in Downingtown and immediately liked it. When he was growing up in West Chester, he was always interested in art, and styling hair gives him a creative outlet.
Opening a new business takes a lot of work, and Garcia expressed his gratitude to his girlfriend, Christina Hughes, for helping while he launched the business. He also said that his family was supportive. He also thanked Oxford Borough and Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. for their help.
Both of the new businesses are located in a building that was purchased and remodeled by the Reimagined Property Group and its owners Katie Kolb and Tom Schreier.
Three of the building’s four retail spaces were leased shortly after the renovation work was completed.
Schreier and Kolb were at the grand of the two new businesses, and they were both pleased about all the energy and enthusiasm surrounding the two grand openings.
“It’s exciting,” Kolb said.