Friday, February 26, 2010

Little Gary's Tattoo

I dig Delaware.  I have lived in all three counties and like that no matter where I am in this state, I run into someone I know.  I also like the fact that you can be talking with someone in Millsboro at 10:00 AM, grab something to eat in Smyrna at 11:00 AM, and meet your friend in Wilmington at noontime for a drink.  
The title of this blog, "Liberty and In Dependence" is a take on Delaware's state motto.  Delaware is what connects me and this blog's co-author, "The Mystery Guy", so I thought it a nice idea to write either weekly or monthly about places in the state we frequent or enjoy (or maybe despise).  The first location I chose to kick it off is a small Tattoo Shop in Dover called Little Gary's Tattoo.


I work with a guy named Bob.  He is originally from Connecticut but moved to the area after he graduated from the University of Delaware, where he was a lineman on the football team (Go Hens).  Bob has several tattoos and has gotten them all from Little Gary's Tattoo shop in Dover.  About a year ago he was getting a tattoo put on his back and on a whim, I stopped into the shop while Bob was getting it done.

I was born and raised in this area and Little Gary's Tattoo has been at the same location as long as I remember.  When I was a kid everyone called it "the tattoo place underneath the Marlboro cowboy" because a giant Marlboro Man loomed over top of it wearing a ten gallon with a cigarette dangling (No longer there courtesy of new tobacco laws, no doubt).

Growing up, Little Gary's Tattoo was TABOO.  Whenever any authority figure drove my brother and I past the place on US 13, tales of debauchery and sin were told to us as they pointed to Gary's place.  Their stories were sometimes given a visual exclamation point when motorcycles were parked out front and one one of its owners could be seen smoking a cigarette by the door. (I am talking about the the 70s and 80s, back when guys who rode motorcycles were considered the fringe of society, not the present day, latte-sipping, cellphone-talking, hair-cut-cost-me-200-dollars metrosexuals you see sporting around on Harleys today).

So this was my conditioning as I walked into Little Gary's for the first time.  I admit I was nervous.  I didn't know what to expect.  I went through the door and immediately saw Bob lying on a table, biting on a shirt, as Little Gary applied ink to a beautiful image of St. Michael.

I was immediately relieved.  I did not find a secret society plotting anarchy in the back room as promised to me during my youth.  I found an eclectic, little local business, whose owner obviously takes pride in his establishment and work.

Bob introduced me to Little Gary.  Gary is very pleasant and easy-going.  He is a genuinely good guy and a native Delawarean and that goes a long way in my book.

I happened to speak with a state employee who is a family friend about the same time I first went to Little Gary's.  I mentioned that I had visited Little Gary's and it turned out that one of this friend's tasks was to check tattoo shops in the state to make certain they were meeting health requirements.  He stated that Gary's shop was the best, hands down.  He advised me that he would never get a tattoo, but if he did, he would go to Gary.

My brother surprised me a few years back and got a humungous tribal tattoo on his shoulder.  Where did he go to get it?  Little Gary's.

After much procrastination and thought, I finally bit the bullet and had a tattoo done by Gary last year.  It was not the painful torture session that I anticipated.  It was actually quite pleasant.  It took about two hours and Gary and I talked the entire time about the area's history and local lore.  I enjoyed the conversation so much, in fact, that I forgot I was there getting a tattoo.

Since then I have been back to Little Gary's several times.  The conversations are always great.  Gary knows something about everything, from the Marx Brothers, to movie trivia, to American history.  The quality of his work is superb and I would go nowhere else.  I have never had any problems whatsoever.

Little Gary has been tattooing for over 35 years and is the oldest, licensed tattoo shop in the state (to my research and knowledge).  If you are looking for a tattoo in Delaware, I highly recommend Little Gary's.  Some people choose therapy, I choose a session there.  I leave feeling good with the added bonus of a picture on my arm.

Little Gary's Tattooing

1652 S Dupont HwyDoverDE 19901

Here are some links to his business:

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