Saint Sabrina’s moves north

Tattoo, piercing and clothing shop says goodbye to longtime location

Jessica Barker, of Belle Plaine, Minn., anxiously chewed a piece of gum as she waited July 29, slouched over a pillow in a warm, small room at St. Sabrina's Parlor in Purgatory.

&#8220OK, ready?” asked tattoo artist Jeremy, who is known as &#8220Jers” around the parlor.

&#8220Yeah,” Barker replied.

The tattoo machine started buzzing and Jers went to work tracing a Celtic shamrock stencil on Barker's lower back.

&#8220Try to relax and breathe,” he said.

July 29 was the last day to visit Saint Sabrina's familiar, mural-adorned 2751 Hennepin Ave. S. location. The tattoo, piercing and clothing shop has moved a block north, to 2645 Hennepin Ave., where it opened Aug. 2.

Saint Sabrina's began at its old location 13 years ago as a clothing-only store.

Owner Leslie Bock was making clothes for her retail venture DV8 at 25th Street and Lyndale Avenue when the first Hennepin site became available. The owner of the space ran a successful alternative fashion store called Uptown Minneapolis but wanted to move out of state. He liked Bock's work and asked if she'd take over the lease.

&#8220I thought, ‘Are you crazy?'” Bock said. &#8220I was paying $275 (a month) in rent and this space was $1,400 (a month). I was scared out of my pants.”

She made the move, renamed the space Saint Sabrina's because she thought it sounded cool, and it wasn't long before the store became the place to go for rockin' apparel in Minneapolis. Bock started offering piercing and tattoos a few months after opening, and Saint Sabrina's has since become a hot spot for those services as well, attracting customers from throughout the state.

After more than a dozen busy years, the old building - originally built as apartments - started to show its age. Wooden floors were well worn, windows started caving in and the outdated air-conditioning system couldn't keep up with the summer heat.

&#8220When it's hot like this, it's hard to imagine missing this place,” said Saint Sabrina's General Manager Derek Lowe during the old shop's last day open, when outdoor temperatures rose past 90 degrees.

The new place, which Bock purchased and had completely remodeled within the last year, has central air. It also uses more natural light and incorporates colorful materials and modern technology.

Gone is the cash register from the old store, replaced by a computer system. A computer island was put in the middle of the store for customers who have a hard time describing their desired tattoo, but have seen it on the Internet. Visitors will find a larger jewelry selection at the new Saint Sabrina's and plenty of indoor and outdoor lounge space.

The new layout is something employees have been looking forward to.

&#8220The atmosphere is good; it's open and comfortable,” Jers said on his second day working in his new tattoo room, complete with big windows and bright red cabinets. &#8220At the old shop, people didn't know where to go. Here, you walk in the front door and it's wide open and laid out. It's encouraging for the customer.”

Saint Sabrina's is now the name for the piercing and tattoo parlor only. A smaller, separate retail section in the back of the new store has been christened Sunken Glory.

Bock has stocked a variety of clothing over the years, from leather pants and rock ‘n' roll T-shirts to drag queen and &#8220Goth” attire, but she wants to move away from the clothing business. People have developed an apathetic attitude toward fashion in recent years, she said.

&#8220I want to get out of the fashion business and into the lifestyle business,” she said.

One new fashion item, however, has been added - Sunken Glory carries shoes designed by tattoo artists.

Bock said the design of the new space is representative of the quirky personalities of the people who work there. She hopes the store will hold on to its loyal customers despite the revamped image.

&#8220We're not ghetto anymore,” she said. &#8220The image of a tattoo place isn't just rundown and old-school. It can be modern.”

Business has been good so far, she said.

The well-known castle-like mural at the old location will probably be painted over, Bock said. The new building will look like a Swiss chalet on the outside when it's done and will not have a mural. Bock said she wanted a sharp contrast between the inside and outside of the building.

&#8220Some people really liked it, but some people had a hard time with our mural,” she said. &#8220We just want to mix things up.”

Jake Weyer can be reached at 436-4367 and [email protected]