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Fargo tattoo parlor faces many hurdles in 'new normal'

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FARGO — As businesses come to grips with the new normal amid the pandemic, some are finding new challenges, despite a steady demand.

No Coast Tattoo, 515 3rd Ave. N., is one of several businesses forced to temporarily close in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Slowly and steadily, they took their time opening their doors again.

But just because the lights are on doesn't mean business is booming.

Co-owner Noah Kilsdonk, who opened up the shop in 2013, said most of the same people working there when it first opened are still there. He said keeping in close, physical contact with customers comes with the territory.

"You can't keep a distance when you have to touch somebody for two hours," Kilsdonk said.

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The close contact with customers means limits are in place on the number of people allowed inside, as well as requiring people to wear masks, and cleaning and sanitizing more frequently than they used to.

When they're not working, they're not in the office. Walk-ins are no more, and the number of appointments have been cut in half, meaning that money made on commissions has fallen. Despite that, the demand for tattoos is still there.

"The business isn't slow, it's just been slow kind of getting back into a normal," Kilsdonk said.

Supplies are also becoming harder to come by.

"Yes, we find them (supplies), but it's the price increases and hikes for medical supplies for non-essential medical businesses," Kilsdonk said.

The markup on cleaning supplies and sanitizer in bulk has skyrocketed since the pandemic began.

"We've seen an increase of between 60% to 400% on some products," he said. "Gloves that were last year $140 are now $600. I think that's the big thing. We're going to find, to be harder and harder to find things get allocated to us rather than hospitals."

Kilsdonk and the crew understand that, and they're trying to make the most of what they have, understanding safety comes first.

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"We're not going full-speed ahead, we're just going to keep going at the pace we're going," Kilsdonk said. "Anyone could have it in here, so it's just better to keep them healthy and safe than anything else, that's our biggest priority."

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