Less than a year after , Bruce Walker has decided to take his tattoo business elsewhere.
Faced recently with the prospect of a 100 percent rent increase over the next two years, the Saddle Brook resident and owner of said that even as the shop has been gaining momentum, he can't justify staying in Fair Lawn.
"I’m not established yet, I’m still getting my feet wet. I’m still building my clientele," said Walker, whose last day in Fair Lawn will be Oct. 31. "I don’t have that kind of cash to really put out for what they’re asking, especially for this location."
Walker's been paying $1000 per month since he moved into his current location on River Road between Krauszers and last November. He learned from his landlord recently that come this November the monthly rent would jump to $1,600.
After his offer to split the difference and sign a multi-year lease was rebuffed by the property's owner, Walker said he had to move on. The landlord's final offer, according to Walker, was $1,500 per month starting in November, followed by $2,000 per month the following year.
"If I was more visible to the public, and cars coming back and forth, then maybe," said Walker, whose small, tucked-away corner shop is barely visible from River Road, blocked on one side by a fence and the other side by a tree. "But it’s not worth that in this little location."
Since Walker began looking for spots elsewhere -- namely Elmwood Park, Dumont, Maywood and West New York -- he said he's actually found larger storefronts in better locations at lower prices than he's paying right now.
“It’s a shame, but I’m going to take this and I’m going to go to another town that will hopefully appreciate me and all the things that I do and start a new home there," said Walker, who has put nearly $10,000 into improving the shop over the past year. "It was a lot of money that I invested. I really thought this was going to be long term, but I didn’t see that curveball coming, unfortunately."
Walker said he'll learn from this experience going forward, and make sure his next lease spells out in writing the cost of rent for more than just the first year.
Maya Yasar, the owner of the hair salon that neighbors Jerzey Tat and shares its landlord, said she feels bad to see Walker leave.
"As a first time business owner, his mistake was not getting a long-term contract," said Yasar, who signed a four-year rent agreement with the landlord when she opened Maya's Hair Salon in February.
Until Walker finds a new location for Jerzey Tat, he said he'll likely find part-time work to help support his wife and young kids.
"I have family that's going to help me on my end and my wife’s end that will help back us up and get us going again because they do believe in me and they believe in this, and they saw the potential it had," he said. "It's just a matter of time, really."