Civic-Minded Entrepreneur Aims to Tap Growing Market in Elk Grove

Josh Hughes with his wife Miale and their five children 
hope to open shop in Elk Grove by the end of March. |
February 2, 2016 |

Father, husband and civic-minded are a few terms that can describe Josh Hughes. Another term that combines all those is an enterprising small business owner who hopes to open shop in Elk Grove.

Hughes, the owner of Emerald Tattoo and Piercing in Lodi and Modesto, hopes to open shop in Elk Grove by this Spring. Hughes has taken a lease out at 9410 Elk Grove-Florin Road and is currently working through the City of Elk Grove's planning process to open what would be the city's first tattoo parlor.

A tattoo artist for 15 years, Hughes opened his first shop in Lodi nine years ago and followed it up with his Modesto location. At the time, his shop was one of two in Lodi and quickly established a loyal and diverse customer base.       

Since opening, Hughes has been active in several civic projects including Christmas toy donations drive, autism awareness, and Veteran causes.

While Hughes is confident he will be able to open shop, he acknowledged the process is more involved in Elk Grove compared to Lodi, Modesto, and several other Sacramento County municipalities because he will need to obtain a conditional use permit. In Elk Grove, the conditional use permit application fee is $10,000. 

Along with his application, Hughes submitted testimonials from his broad customer base including an attorney with the San Joaquin District Attorney's office and a Modesto Police officer.

"The planning department has been surprisingly receptive and open to it," Hughes said. "They saw that I wasn't some sort of fly-by-night biker that was going to come in here, smoke cigarettes out in front. That's not the kind of business I run."  

As part of the process, Hughes says he has spent considerable time meeting other Elk Grove small business owners to allay any preconceptions they may have about tattoo shops. 

"I am not a fly-by-night tattoo shop," Hughes said. "I have multiple locations, I have more accreditation than anybody else and instead of just trying to come in and open, I have gone out of my way to make friends with the local businesses." 

Hughes hopes to open the shop by the end of March. When he is up and running, Hughes expects to have four full-time employees.

Hughes also stressed that his shop will not apply any hate or gang tattoos. As part of his community service, Hughes said he will assist individuals wanting to cover-up gang or offensive tattoos at cost, or in some cases for free.  

"Lots of times people make bad decisions early on in life," Hughes noted.

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Anonymous said...

Someday people will be open minded to openly welcome a business like this and turn their noses up at it.

I have 0 piercings, 0 tattoos but he runs a successful and honest business that people want.....why wouldn't the City of Elk Grove welcome the services and the revenues?

It will interesting to see the amount of runaround Mr Hughes receives.

It's not like he's opening an indoor soccer facility. Apparently those are to be treated like places of satanic worship..ask them...

Anonymous said...

All things being considered I wouldn’t mind a tattoo shop among the mix if our fair city weren’t already marginalized with an over supply of fast food restaurants, wal-marts, low cost housing projects and growing crime. If we weren’t already facing the failure of what was to be a community-saving, upscale-job producing development area known as SEPA. If we still weren’t dealing with that rust bucket along 99—the once promised upscale shopping mall turned discount shopping center turned possible gambling casino.

Anonymous said...

$10,000 for a conditional use permit! It's Grow Time alright--right into the coffers of the planning consultant and no guarantee of approval. Hope he didn't already sign the lease.

Thomas A. Anderson said...

Good luck Josh. I hope the city doesn't jerk you around like they seem to do to small business owners. Perhaps you should have given some cash to the fellas on the city council as sort of insurance policy.

Unknown said...

I have noticed a lot of newer low income apartments and we wonder why crime has gone up. I don't mind new business but I think we have enough low income housing in Elk Grove.

Melroes said...

Just because someone lives in low income housing does not mean they are a criminal.

Connie said...

Back in 2009, the Elk Grove Planning Commission approved Capital Ink Tattoos and Body Piercing for a store in Old Town Elk Grove. Patrick McGuire also owns a store in Old Sacramento. He has a wonderful reputation as well. Planning staff had denied the application. However, the application was appealed and the Elk Grove City Council denied the application.

If you look at the shops in Old Town, we see lots of hair and nail salons, so I didn’t quite buy the argument that Old Town has a certain “culture” that would prohibit a unique store. At the time, and this was years ago, tattoos were starting to become mainstream, even more so today. Even though I personally don’t care for tattoos, and don’t have one, I am probably in the minority today. But as Bob Dylan sang, “For the times they are a-changin'!”

On a visit One Capitol Mall at the time, I decided to stop in Patrick’s shop. It was a nice shop and I felt very comfortable stepping for a look see, and said as much at the council meeting. Too bad Patrick didn’t find a home in Elk Grove. I hope Mr. Hughes does.

Here is the Elk Grove Citizen article, worth the read.

Also in the wise words of Bob Dylan “And don't criticize what you can't understand.”

Lynn said...


At the time the project came forth in Old Towne I opposed it. My objection was on a public health basis; the businesses were not subject to regular health inspections. There is a risk with tattoos of blood borne pathogens; Hepatitis B, C and HIV. At that time there was no law in place. Many in the industry were requesting stricter standards to weed out the businesses that did not have high standard practices. At the hearing the applicant did mention their business is inspected...yes that is initially with the license. However no periodic inspections after that.
There was a bill moving forward to increase the health standards and practices with regular inspection. I did not follow the bill after the denial of the past project. I will look into it and when this project comes before our council will again speak to the public health aspects. At the time I did the research UCD had a wonderful information bulletin that even without a law could be posted and provided to clients; risks and benefits of tattoos. I believe proactive education is important!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the positive comments and feedback. We are in the final stages of approval (or god forbid, denial) you can view part of our business plan by visiting it is full of good information and letters from the community. Thank you for taking the time to read this and look over the Business bio. -Josh/Owner @emeraldtattoo

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