In order to help differentiate itself from other Collegetown salons, Acute Style is now offering tattoos at its Dryden Road locale. The full-service, unisex salon, which provides waxing and hairstyling, is working to compete with the more than four other salons on Dryden alone.
The salon’s owner, Michelle Green, said she hopes that the addition of tattoos and body piercings to the menu of services will draw a larger crowd to the salon, which is located at 147 Dryden Rd.
“We might get 15 to 20 customers on a very good day. We’re hoping that changes soon,” Green said.
Green said business for the tattoo service has been slow, particularly with so few students around during the summer.
“Students keep coming in and inquiring about tattoos, so we hope it picks up," she said. "I think there is a market out there, but it’s not everyone.”
Kenny Smelser, Acute Style’s first and only tattoo artist, has been tattooing for the past 10 years, working in parlors from Rochester, N.Y., to Louisiana.
Since the tattoo parlor opened in July, Smelser has completed tattoos on five customers. He said he has created designs ranging from human hands to shipwrecks to peacocks.
Smelser draws his tattoos freehand, and his skilled portraits display a talent that initially enticed Green to employ him at Acute Style, Green said. She described him as “artistically gifted.”
Smelser said he enjoys the atmosphere of working in a salon compared to working at a tattoo parlor.
“All the tattoos were [done] in barber shops when they were starting out in America along the Bowery in New York in the 1920s,” Smelser said. “To me that’s kind of cool. A lot of people look at it as kind of different. I think it’s like going back to the roots.”
The average cost of a tattoo is about $40, Smelser said — or about $35 for each hour it takes him to complete the tattoo.
“I work fast and like to give people a deal. The reason I’ve started tattooing is to do good work on people,” he said.
While there are about 20 tattoo artists in downtown Ithaca, Smelser said he believes that Acute Style offers a better deal for college students.
“We’re charging a fair price,” he said. “I believe that if we treat people well, they’ll come back.”