In an age where tattoo shops close almost as quickly as they pop up, Screaming Crow Tattoo and Piercing in Homestead, PA has managed to carve out a steady existence for the past 4 years.
“We’ve seen them come and go,” says co-owner Eric Corbin. “Two have tried to open up next to us and they both failed within a year.”
When asked what might be the key to Screaming Crow’s success, Corbin indicates artist friendly management. “We’ve taken a different approach. Most shops are managed or owned by artists. Which is fine if you’re Superman, but it is very difficult to be an artist and successfully manage the entire shop. You usually fall short at one or the other. My partner (Todd Porter) has been tattooing for about 25 years, and not being a tattoo artist myself, I can concentrate on the finances and the day to day operations while letting the artists concentrate on putting out good work.”
Another reason for Screaming Crow’s success is that they want their artists to stick around. The industry has been plagued with artist who “shop hop” and never gain a true clientele.
“We actually supply more to our artists than most shops do,” says co-owner Todd Porter. “They get paid a fair wage based on performance, clientele, etc. We want them to stay with us for years.”
Porter has been a successful tattoo shop owner for many years. Besides tattooing Porter has fronted a few of Pittsburgh’s more successful rock bands like Eviction, Silver Tongue Devil and currently The Cheats.
Corbin too comes from the music industry having worked at Inside Out Music America as well as maintaining his own record label, Screaming Crow Records, where the tattoo shop got its name.
“Eric and I have been friends for many years,” said Porter. “My band, The Cheats, are on his record label. After Inside Out Music was sold and was out of a job, I asked him to come help out at my shop, Sinners and Saints Tattoo, in Shady Side.”
“I saw the writing on the wall,” says Corbin. “MP3s and file sharing were killing the music industry. We were watching record labels fold into each other, sell out to larger labels or just close up shop. I too was feeling it with Screaming Crow Records. CDs sales were plummeting and digital sales were rising. Problem is the digital sales still aren’t equal to what record companies were doing a few years in physical sales. Instead of buying the whole album, people are now buying only a track or two which has all but killed the industry.”
When the space became available on 8th and Amity in Homestead, the two jumped at the chance to become partners and open a second shop. They wanted to open the shop as soon as possible. However they didn’t want to call it Sinners and Saint II. They wanted it to have its own identity. In order to open faster, they used Corbin‘s company’s name (Screaming Crow) and business accounts for a couple months until they got the partnership papers filed and the proper accounts open.
Even though it is more of a hobby now, Screaming Crow Records still exists and Porter‘s band, The Cheats, are still putting out releases through the label. Most recently releasing a split LP with New Jersey rock legends, Electric Frankenstein called “Rockamania 1” which was received with glowing reviews.
Screaming Crow Tattoo is currently has an open booth for another artist, but the two partners don’t seem to be in a hurry to fill the void.
“The right person will come along,” said Porter. “We are looking for a good local artist who fits into our little ‘no drama’ rock n’ roll family.”
Current artists at Screaming Crow Tattoo are Steev Barncord, Aaron Harding, (also the drummer of the The Cheats), and master piercer, Rev Lower, who also fronts the sleazy shock rock band, Only Flesh (currently signed to Rotten Records). Lower also has a suspension team and does a side show act which recently performed at The Gathering this summer in front of tens of thousands of people.
“I love working here,” says Rev Lower. “We all have a lot in common and we can help each other out in that respect. I don’t have to worry about losing my job when I go out on tour. Plus, who else is going to hire a guy with facial tattoos and black eyes?” he jokes.
Screaming Crow Tattoo and Piercing’s four year anniversary and Customer Appreciation Day is Saturday, October 18th. They will be having free food for all past and current customers, tattoo and piercing specials, and side show performances by Rev Lower throughout the day.
Screaming Crow Tattoo & Piercing
204 E. 8th Ave.
Homestead, PA 15120