Right here’s why Allston’s Stingray Physique Artwork closed abruptly this month


“It is a heartbreaking factor, particularly for us because the house owners…[we feel that we] let our clients down, our group down, and worst of all, our staff,” certainly one of Stingray’s co-owners mentioned.

Stingray Physique Artwork in Allston closed abruptly on Aug. 6. Scott Matalon

For almost 20 years, Stingray Physique Artwork sat subsequent to O’Brien’s Pub on the nook of Harvard Avenue and Cambridge Road — an unmissable neighborhood staple of Allston.

Recognized for servicing teams of faculty college students who got here to get customized tattoos collectively, the tattoo and piercing store felt like a pure reflection of the neighborhood’s numerous, younger, and sometimes punk inhabitants.

Stingray Physique Artwork in Allston closed abruptly on Aug. 6. – Scott Matalon

However on Aug. 6, Stingray made a stunning announcement — it was all of a sudden and with out warning closing for good, becoming a member of the likes of different Allston staples to shut in recent times, like music venue Nice Scott and eating places Regina Pizzeria, Frequent Floor, and Sundown Bar and Grill.

In line with co-owner Scott Matalon, many of the store’s artists have been capable of finding new jobs, and clients have had their deposits returned and been related with their artist.

Matalon, who dealt with the tattoo store’s operations, blamed the closure on pandemic-related enterprise struggles, although he mentioned the closure was deliberate solely every week prematurely.

After two particularly sluggish months, Matalon mentioned, Stingray’s leaders checked out its funds and realized it needed to shut instantly if it had been to honor monetary commitments it had already made.

The house owners beforehand mentioned closing in January 2023, however determined to not as a result of they believed the store would recuperate, Matalon mentioned. They’d hoped to outlive till September when the scholars returned, however couldn’t.

“It’s a heartbreaking factor, particularly for us because the house owners…[we feel that we] let our clients down, our group down, and worst of all, our staff,” he mentioned. “We had been working to succeed proper as much as the top.”

In the beginning of the pandemic, Stingray closed for 5 months, throughout which it nonetheless needed to pay overhead prices like hire and utilities, Matalon mentioned. However when it reopened, its monetary state of affairs was nonetheless bleak, as routine provides had skyrocketed in worth.

“Issues like, for instance, surgical gloves, which usually price $8 a field, had been over $30,” he mentioned.

Another excuse Stingray struggled was as a result of the store’s enterprise mannequin — being an enormous store that would service giant teams directly — was not viable in a world coping with a pandemic, Matalon mentioned.

“Earlier than the pandemic, we had walk-in Saturdays. We had 40 individuals within the store at a time, all of them include their associates, and that was a part of the tattoo expertise,” he mentioned.

However after the pandemic, Matalon mentioned, individuals may solely enter the store one after the other. In addition they needed to put on masks, which dampened the social expertise.

What the within of Stingray Physique Artwork in Allston appeared like on a typical Saturday earlier than the pandemic. – Scott Matalon

Like many small companies, Stingray additionally struggled to maintain its staffing ranges up. A whole lot of small tattoo outlets opened in the course of the pandemic, Matalon mentioned, and lots of of those outlets provided excessive pay and had been situated within the suburbs the place artists might be nearer to residence and have a decrease price of residing.

When Stingray Physique Artwork opened on Aug. 27, 2005, it joined the tattoo trade at a time when it was “going from again streets to Important Road,” as Matalon says.

“All of us love tattoos, and we’d all had dangerous experiences at the old fashioned outlets…We’d drive out of state or go to the lofts in South Boston and get a tattoo in a again room someplace,” he mentioned. “This was a chance to make one thing new, that was revolutionary in a means.”

Stingray targeted on tattooing no matter clients wished, versus reproducing designs from flash sheets, Matalon mentioned.

“The primary and most necessary milestone was creating a store that was designed [to make you feel welcome]. That whoever you had been, you can are available in and you can ask any questions and be handled with respect,” he mentioned.

Matalon remembers clients saying their tattoo concepts had gotten them laughed out of different outlets. One buyer, as an example, advised them an artist refused to do a tattoo of Yogi Bear.

“We bought plenty of pushback from different outlets…[They said we] had been ruining the trade by making an enormous, giant, pleasant store,” he mentioned. “However I’m truly pleased with that. If you happen to’re making the outdated guard mad then you definately’re doing one thing proper.”

Stingray additionally made a degree of taking over younger artists as apprentices and giving again to the group by sponsoring occasions and organizations, Matalon mentioned.

“I’m actually pleased with everybody who’s ever labored at Stingray,” he mentioned.