Success through Specialization

Image of another tattoo parlor, not Charlie's, courtesy of the American Planning Association

Image of another tattoo parlor, not Charlie's, courtesy of the American Planning Association

Local businesses stimulate economic growth by getting people excited about buying local goods and services and recycling spending through the local economy. Here, we highlight such a local business in our downtown Santa Ana neighborhood.

Charlie (Carlos) Rico and his wife Lupe, who own Charlie’s Tattoos Supply in the East End area of Downtown Santa Ana (316 E. 4th St.), arrived in the US from Mexico and wanted to rise above $3/hour wages. They began selling homemade tamales, and eventually found themselves with a space at the Orange County swap meet. They then started making unique customer leather boots and hats. A building owner brought them to their first store at 17th Street and Towner in Santa Ana and eventually to a larger space on 4th Street.

As customers’ visits to the shop slowed, Charlie and Lupe did their market research (by walking around the swap meet to see what people were seeking), completely revamped the business, and now specialize in tattoo and body modification services. They offer vintage records, Morrissey t-shirts, and skateboards. With a solid four stars on Yelp and a diverse customer base, Charlie and Lupe provide for their 9 children and 15 grandchildren.

The spirit, perseverance and drive of Charlie and Lupe is inspiring. While their story is special, it may be typical of many Santa Ana immigrant families. Charlie and Lupe choose their lifestyle based on what others need. It’s a true success story.

RSG understands local businesses like Charlie’s Tattoos Supply and can help your city work with them. Call us to find out more.

Written by Jim Simon, a Principal at RSG, and Jeff Khau, a Senior Analyst at RSG