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Downtown: Toys make way for tattoos in Concord

After almost 80 years as a toy shop, the storefront at the corner of North State and Warren streets will become a tattoo parlor.

Doug Mendoza set up shop next to the former French’s Toy Shop on Warren Street seven years ago. Now, he’s renovating the neighboring store to expand Bona Fide Tattoo into the larger space.

“The new space allows us to have an actual lobby where people can come in and browse the things that we have to offer and talk, and not necessarily disturb artists and their clients,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza walked through the construction scene inside the corner storefront yesterday morning, stepping through the space where the

lobby will emerge from the sawdust. His arms, extended to point here and there, were inked with designs that crawl up under the black sleeves of his T-shirt.

The small shop on Warren Street has little separation for clients who walk in to just talk tattoos and those who are actually in an artist’s chair, Mendoza said.

“That’s a real luxury for us, just having a separation from the public,” he said of the design for the new space.

Back in the dim tattoo studio at 21 Warren Street, Mendoza sat on a metal stool and pointed at some of the drawings on his wall.

“Usually, there’s something going on in a person’s life that leads them to mark their bodies forever,” he said.

And he likes to be a part of that.

“I really enjoy helping a person feel better about themselves,” Mendoza said. “Tattoos really give a tremendous boost to a person’s self esteem.”

There’s no take-backs in tattoos, Mendoza said. That’s part of why he wants more space for clients to talk out their designs with one of the four artists who work at Bona Fide Tattoo.

“I think for everybody, it’s going to allow more one-on-one time with the clients with less distractions,” he said.

If Mendoza had his way, he joked that he would run his tattoo shop out of a secluded shack in the woods without any distractions from the outside world. But he’s doing his best to create a space for his art in the middle of downtown Concord.

“I want a little borough away from the world,” he said

Mendoza is currently renovating the storefront and said he isn’t sure when the new shop will be open.

“We’re just looking at creating a beautiful space that Concord can be proud of,” he said.

He’s toying with the idea of keeping the signature blue-and-yellow paint on the outside, although he hasn’t made a decision yet. But what’s inside the shop will certainly be a change from the former tenants. The storefront opened in 1935 as French’s Radio Shop. New owners reopened the toy shop in 2004 under the French family name, and the business has changed hands several times since.

Most recently, Lori Leitner opened The Toy Shop in 2011. She had also owned The Toy Shop at the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester, but both locations are now closed. She left the Concord store in late 2013.

Mendoza will be running a very different shop than his predecessors did, but he invited clients to stop in just the same.

“We’re all kind of crowd pleasers,” he said.

Pillsbury Street parking

A vacant Pillsbury Street house could become a parking lot for a nearby office building, if Steve Duprey sways the city’s planning board in his favor next week.

The application from Duprey Acquisitions LLC to the planning board argues in favor of the new parking lot for their tenants in the offices at 2 Pillsbury St. and 30 Pillsbury St. Duprey’s company also owns the house at 46 Pillsbury St., which would be torn down to make way for 32 new spaces.

“The success these tenants have seen in recent years has led to an increased demand for parking,” the application read.

The zoning board first denied Duprey approval last summer when a neighbor raised concerns, but then granted him approval in November. He now needs the planning board to sign off on the plan.

“Nobody likes to be building parking lots, especially when they’re adjacent to residential neighborhoods,” Duprey told the city’s zoning board in July. “We think it’s badly needed.”

The parking lot was on the planning board’s agenda last week, but without a quorum, the meeting was postponed until April 2. The board will meet at 7 p.m. in council chambers.

Public forum for anniversary

The planning committee for Concord’s 250th anniversary in 2015 will host its third public forum Wednesday.

At the meeting, the committee will share details of its kick-off ceremony in June and an update on plans to unearth and open a time capsule buried almost 50 years ago.

The forum will take place Wednesday at 6 p.m. in council chambers.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

Legacy Comments9

Haha! How old am I?! You're the one having a hissy fit over something that is a part of life...change! Do you guys realize that this exact tattoo shop has been there for years now?! Why do you think that it extending a little bit is going to be that much of a difference? Have you noticed a difference in THAT particular area since it got there? I know I haven't lol. What about the homeless population infesting the area... do you see them hanging around the tattoo parlor?! No, because tattoos cost MONEY lol. Drug addicts don't get tattoos... they get drugs lol. Criminals don't care about a tattoo place.. they want to rob a bank. Hello people! The people I see go into tattoo shops are daughters with their Mothers getting a tattoo for the first time... or a business man that has a full tattoo but you would never know. There are tattoo places ALL over Concord... I love how I am the immature one when all I'm trying to do is stand up against some really ignorant people that have NO idea what they're talking about. Unreal. It's thinking like that that causes hate and an unwelcoming place. It's sad you guys can't even see this... I said I understood your side, and you won't even budge about understanding mine... yet, I'm immature? Sad, sad, sad....

"I see...daughters with their Mothers getting a tattoo for the first time...". What's the name of that room, "Tats for Tots"?

I can understand the sadness of losing something and I'm sorry for not making that clear, but that doesn't give anyone the right to be so close minded. That's my issue... is that both of you clearly aren't even open to trying to understand the tattoo culture, and it's that type of thinking that doesn't get us anywhere... and the type of attitude that makes a place more unwelcoming than any shop/business/place that doesn't add to the aesthetics of a city or town lol. It's too bad that people can't adapt and be happy with change. It seems like no matter what was put in there, you both would still be upset because it's not what it used to be. Whatever... I hope someday you can let that negativity go and embrace change and other cultures you're not familiar with. There is no "fact is," that tattoo places attract anything negative... hopefully you figure that out one day because you're missing out! I feel bad for the both of you... definitely not checking to see if either of you comment because there is no point in arguing. I understand your sadness, but overall I think you're being bitter and close minded and in the end, you need to deal with that and I don't haha! PEACE!

Please count me as another "close(d) minded" citizen who'd rather not have a tattoo parlor in downtown Concord. Not saying all people with tattoos are of same ilk, but that kind of establishment definitely draws flies. Cow manure is a wonderful thing, too, when used as fertilizer on crops. Doesn't mean I want a steaming pile of it plopped next door to me, however.

" need to deal with that and I don't haha! PEACE!". How old are you...twelve? I rest my case.

CWMoss ... I've learned that commenting usually just leads to arguments, but your post was so offensive that I felt I had to say something. Doug is a great person, works hard, and does amazing work. He's a stand up guy. Making the assumption that his business is "sleazy," and causes the area to become less of a welcoming area is just ignorant. Tattoos are a respectable art form and I suggest you educate yourself on them and the people that get them and why they get them before making such ridiculous accusations. Tattoos are not negatively connected to a type of person or lifestyle, and I'm sorry that you feel that they might be... you really need to get with the times, honestly. Clearly, Concord didn't want a toy shop there anymore or they would still be in business. And what does a respectable tattoo parlor being across from the YMCA have to do with anything? Do you not think that people that work at the YMCA or go to the YMCA have tattoos? I feel sorry for you that you can't accept and embrace a respected form of expressing oneself. If you feel this way, maybe you should be moving to the middle of nowhere where there is no culture, no different people. Get over yourself. MUCH love to Bona Fide and the amazing people that work there 3

You may just be missing the bigger picture here: It’s not so much what is taking French’s place, but that French’s is finally biting the dust. If you cannot see why people might be sad at that loss, you clearly never had the pleasure of pressing the big “L” on the window to make the Lionel trains go around in the window on Christmas. And if you equate the aesthetic value of having a tattoo parlor instead of a high-end children’s toyshop with many decades of tradition, maybe YOU ought to get over YOURself. (And just butt out.)

ZHill, I'm sure Doug is a "great guy", and only "amazing people" work for him. But none of that turns a tattoo parlor into a chapel. And, I'd love to hear "The Y" check in here. I seriously doubt they're thrilled with their new neighbor. Who would be? Fact is, tattoo parlors attract an undesirable element, while adding nothing positive to the downtown landscape. It's too bad you weren't quicker with your "middle of nowhere" advice for the new location of this parlor.

Pardon me, but did downtown Concord just trade an established toy shop for a sleazy den of in-ink-quity? If things don't work out for Larry Preston in Suncook, maybe Trevor's Toybox can buy out Granite State Candy Shoppe on Warren Street to complete the look. A tattoo parlor diagonally across from the YMCA. Classy, indeed. Wtg, Concord.

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