FTLOI relocating downtown


Chris Walls sweeps the future site of For the Love of Ink at 55 W. Main St. in downtown Wilmington.

C.J. Walls gives a thumbs-up while doing some renovation work.

WILMINGTON – One of the newest additions to Wilmington’s Main Street businesses will be For the Love of Ink, a local tattoo studio attempting to break negative stereotypes.

“For the Love of Ink is not your stereotypical tattoo studio,” said owner Christopher Walls.

Walls said his studio has been involved in a number of different community efforts, including food drives, fundraising and, more recently, stepping aside from a West Locust Street property so an overnight shelter could move in.

The tattoo shop is currently located at 40 S. Mulberry St., but Walls said recent circumstances have opened an opportunity for him to move further downtown into 55 W. Main St., the former site of Wilmington Nutrition Center.

Walls said his brother-in-law and sister, Chuck and Tracy Scalf, bought the former dentist’s office at 260 W. Locust St. as an investment property so For the Love of Ink could move in.

At the time, Walls said, he was confident he could get the property rezoned from Professional Office, which does not allow tattoo parlors, to Neighborhood Business, which does.

After his rezoning request was denied because he couldn’t provide adequate parking, and a zoning ordinance which would have allowed the move was stopped until November by a referendum petition, Walls said he decided it would be best to step aside and allow Hope House, an overnight women’s shelter, to move into the location.

As previously reported by the Wilmington News Journal, throughout Walls’ zoning process, several neighbors and owners of nearby properties protested the move for a variety of reasons, citing safety concerns and property value decreases.

“They were very disgruntled with the idea of a tattoo shop being there,” Walls said. “We continued to fight to get in there.”

Walls said he eventually decided to move on.

“Even if we got in, we knew the neighbors wouldn’t allow us to be there,” he said. “We hold no ill will against the neighbors of the Locust Street location … We gave it up for a reason … Hope House needed a place to stay.”

“We are just thankful above and beyond any expectations,” said Tammy Beery, who runs the shelter. “The Scalf family is just being incredible generous in allowing Hope House to be in their location there at 260 W. Locust.”

Beery said the Hope House board will meet later this month to discuss particulars.

Walls said now he’s focused on renovating the new Main Street location.

“We love the historic downtown feel,” Walls said. “We’re thrilled we’re going to be part of downtown and we hope to be a positive influence on the progression of Wilmington.”

For the Love of Ink is currently raising funds for renovations, which Walls hopes will be done within the next few weeks.

He plans to open the shop July 11 with a ribbon cutting and open house featuring face painting and henna tattoos, as well as free food and door prizes.

Although the space still has a long way to go before it’s an operational tattoo studio, Walls said he’s confident they’ll make their deadline.

“I think it’s working,” he said.

For the Love of Ink has a Go Fund Me page, which can be found by visiting www.gofundme.com/vqtx78.

Reach David Wright at 937-556-5770, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.