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Tattoos remain a must-have accessory, even in recession

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They communicate something about the person, something they are passionate about or that expresses their unique sense of selfhood. "Tattoos resonate with how consumers are shopping now," she says. "They look for something that reflects their values, a sense of belonging, and permanence."

Parlors nationwide see the evidence of that:

•At Pino Bros. Ink in Cambridge, Mass., initial concerns about the recession harming business were quickly dispelled. "If anything, we noticed a bump," says owner Frank Pino.

•At Stingray Body Art and More in Boston, owner Scott Matalon is a bit more cautious, but also upbeat: "Our growth has been steady, although it's slowed."

•At Tattoo City, in Lockport, Ill., business has remained steady, with an increase in older clients coming in for their first tattoo. "The old timers in the industry will tell you that through hard times and even depression eras, people still get tattooed," says owner Larry Brogan.

•At Independent Tattoo in Selbyville, Del., owner and artist Matthew Amey says that his business has seen the same phenomenon. "Just last week one of my coworkers tattooed an 83-year-old woman getting her first tattoo," he says.

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