AJ McGuire's no stranger to the sky-high costs of rent and the struggles of surviving as a small business owner in Denver. He's even had to shutter his tattoo shop. Twice.
Fortunately, Dead Drift Tattoo will be celebrating its third opening on November 1, in Denver's Art District on Santa Fe, just in time for the First Friday art walk.
McGuire first opened Dead Drift Tattoo back in 2015 in the River North Art District, off 31st and Blake streets. Just over a year later, the shop was forced to move out over code issues.
Soon after, he found his shop a second home on 21st and Arapaho streets. McGuire signed a five-year contract and relaunched his business. But around the holidays last year, the building was sold to developers who planned to erect a twenty-story apartment building, and his lease with the previous landlords was terminated. McGuire had ten months to vacate the building.
So the hunt for a third location began in the summer of 2019. In August, McGuire found his shop a new home at 774 North Santa Fe Drive. Dead Drift Tattoo opened its doors once again on Monday, September 30.
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"I enjoy everything about being a business owner. I like the vibe my shop has, and I like providing an easygoing work space for myself and other artists to tattoo in," says McGuire. "After having my own shop, I can’t imagine working anywhere else."
The Art District on Santa Fe has seen its own uptick in development, and galleries and shops have struggled to stay open on the strip. Still, McGuire remains optimistic.
"I strongly believe the third time is the charm," he says. "I’m very excited to be on Santa Fe and to be part of the art community."
He plans to offer flash-tattoo specials every First Friday. The shop will also showcase a rotation of tattoo-inspired artworks on the walls and bring in guest tattoo artists from around the country.
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"I love the contrasting fast pace but relaxed attitude the area offers," says McGuire. "It’s easy to be inspired when you’re surrounded by beautiful art and talented artists."
Dead Drift Tattoo will continue to host four permanent artists and a new apprentice as it gets settled in. McGuire says he can accommodate up to eight artists in the future, which the shop is in the process of hiring.
He and his crew of artists are throwing a "Grand Re-Re-Opening Party" on Friday, November 1, during regular business hours, with food, drinks and the chance to meet the tattoo artists, schedule appointments, and get in on flash specials throughout the day.
The new location for Dead Drift Tattoo is 774 North Santa Fe Drive. It's open Wednesday through Monday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.