Jason Chapman, owner of the Hallowed Ground Body Art Studio in Portland, wants to pursue his two passions in Scarborough: custom ink and exotic pets.
In separate but adjacent stores, Chapman hopes to open a second location for his tattoo studio and a shop to sell exotic pets such as reptiles, amphibians and birds.
Although the two businesses seem like an unusual pairing, Chapman said he’s following his heart.
“I’ve owned snakes and lizards my whole life. It’s a passion of mine,” he said. “You’ve got to do what you love. The tattoo business — I’ve been around a long time and I still love it.”
The tattoo studio, Hallowed Ground Scarborough LLC, would specialize in intricate, appointment-only custom tattoos that take more than five hours to complete. It would be the first tattoo studio in Scarborough, according to Town Planner Dan Bacon.
HB Exotics LLC would sell animals and all the necessary housing, bedding, food and accessories to care for the pets. Scarborough has several traditional pet stores but no specialty store focused on exotic animals.
Chapman wants to reuse the commercial building at 287 Gorham Road for his businesses. The Scarborough Planning Board will consider the proposal Monday night.
Either business would be a departure from the building’s previous tenant, Stearns Property Services, a landscaping company.
When asked which business he thinks will ruffle the most feathers, Chapman said media reports about the exotic-pet store triggered the most negative comments. But the tattoo studio may be a tougher sell in Scarborough because it would be the first such business in town, he said.
Bacon said both businesses would be permissible in the town’s commercial zone. On Monday, the Planning Board will examine only logistical issues such as parking and signs, he said.
Chapman, who worked with exotic animals at conventions and specialty pet shows, said, “Both businesses are destination sites. These aren’t things you buy on whim. And we won’t sell them on whim. I’ve turned people away for tattoos and I’ve turned people down for exotic pets because they didn’t know what they were getting into.”
HB Exotics would have a big education component, offering seminars at schools and businesses about the proper care and treatment of exotic pets, Chapman said.
Although Petco and other chains sell some exotic animals, such as snakes and birds, Chapman said customers are offered little education about the special needs of their unusual pets.
“When we sell an animal, it will come with a full care sheet teaching people the right way to handle their pet. If they have questions, we’ll sit and talk with them for an hour. We’re about teaching people the right way to care for these animals,” Chapman said.
The nearest exotic-pet store is in New Hampshire, he said.
Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at: