Photos | Kyle Freeman
Best Tattoo Shop – The Bell Rose Tattoo & Piercing
BY ALYSON SHEPPARD
There’s a peculiar warmth to The Bell Rose. The resident tattoo artists are supportive, gassing up your ideas – “That design looks so cool!” – instead of giving you a list of reasons why it won’t work. And that care extends not only to burly men getting full back pieces, but also to teenagers crying in fear of the needling required for their first foot ink.
“We don’t look at people like they’re a paycheck,” resident body piercer Aaron Victory said. “We understand that every person walking in the door is our neighbor, our friend. We want to make it a welcoming environment and give them exactly what they want and give them a good time.”
This community-driven atmosphere is why Lagniappe readers voted The Bell Rose (28850 U.S. Route 98, #105, Daphne) “Best Tattoo Shop” on both sides of the bay. Centrally located off of Interstate 10 between Mobile and Pensacola, the shop’s total-pro reputation has earned it a roster of loyal customers since owner Pete Anderson opened the shop with his friends in 2014.
Having been in the industry for a decade, Anderson was able to cherry-pick the artists he felt were doing the best work in this area, and their clients followed.
“Everybody who works here brings something special to the table,” he said. “You can come in with any style and we’ve got someone for the job.”
The Bell Rose employs eight tattooers and a body piercer – the only one on the Eastern Shore – and someone is always available to take walk-ins. Half of the artists, however, have such dedicated followings that their appointments are booked out months in advance. The shop also brings in guest artists from across the country at least once a month, giving locals an opportunity to get different styles of tattoos without having to travel for it.
“Being surrounded by people who are motivated, who are being creative all the time, pushes you to the next level,” Victory said. “When you use the highest quality of materials that you can and you really care about what you do, you make the best work.”
This fall, The Bell Rose will open a second location, down the street at 2007 US-98, the old Colonial Motor used car lot. It will become their flagship, offering appointment-only tattoos, a retail space, Wi-Fi, a juice bar and a food truck court. They envision it as a much-needed community and event space for the city, where people can hang out even if they aren’t getting tattooed or pierced.
Daphne has been particularly welcoming to the shop’s plans for expansion, probably because local police officers, lawyers and Daphne City Councilors reportedly get inked there too. It’s like the barber shop everyone in town uses – if haircuts were permanent.
“From day one, this is the shop, brand, persona that we’ve lived and breathed,” manager Kyle Freeman said. “We’ve always been original.”
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