Here’s a chance to purchase a Las Vegas tattoo shop for $50 — well, sort of.
Caleb Cashew has decided to unload his Black Omen Tattoo business through a raffle process by selling 11x14 original works of art made by him and some of the shop’s independent tattoo contractors for $50.
Each piece of art comes with a Willy Wonka-style “golden ticket” for entry into the raffle, which kicked off in December. His goal is to sell 2,021 pieces of art — which would raise around $100,000 — and pick one random ticket by July.
As of this week, only about 160 prints had been sold, which means he’s a long way from his goal.
That person would receive the rights to the shop, which is located in the Paradise Rodeo Plaza strip mall near Paradise Road and Flamingo Road, though the winner would still need to pay the shop’s rent.
Most of what’s in the shop today, along with the business’ brand and client base, would stay. Cashew, 35, says about $15,000 in inventory would be left behind.
“I figured, if I found someone who would pay me what I’d like to get for this business, it would probably be somebody who is very well off,” Cashew said. “I thought it would be cool to level the playing field and give people a chance to get a business that’s established. I just kind of dreamed it up on my own.”
Originally from Oregon, Cashew followed his brother, who is a member of the military, to Las Vegas from Tennessee in 2013. He opened Black Omen in 2016 and said he found success with the business.
His wife, Brittany, recently had a baby, however, and the couple now plans to move to the East Coast to live closer to family.
“It’s a lofty goal, but I’m the type of person who will try to do something if you tell me I can’t do it,” Cashew said. “I don’t think it’s taking advantage of anybody because people are only paying $50 and they’re getting something for their money. It’s not a straight gamble.”
In fact, Cashew had to check with the Nevada Gaming Control Board to make sure that it wasn’t gambling. At first, board officials weren’t certain how to classify the raffle, but they later stated that it’s not considered gambling, which was confirmed by a board spokesman for this story.
The main sticking point for the regulators centered on whether the drawings being sold were going for fair market value, though Cashew said he was able to make a successful case that they were.
Kevin Raiford, a business professor at the College of Southern Nevada, said creative ways to offload businesses will likely become more common in the future, largely because of growing fatigue with various bureaucratic requirements heaped upon small-business owners.
“I think people are just tired of all the paperwork involved with a transaction like that,” Raiford said. “Especially now during the pandemic, some offices are closed and it’s a challenge sometimes just to get a business registered. Something like what Black Omen Tattoo is doing can alleviate bringing out, say, the zoning board or health department.”
No matter how many tickets are sold, Cashew said he’s committed to the raffle process, though he’s not sure yet how the winning ticket will be picked.
It could be determined through a computerized number generator, or he might use a lottery-style machine. He just wants to make sure that nobody questions the fairness of the process.
Whoever the winner is, they’ll have to be approved by Cashew’s landlord. The shop’s lease runs until September, Cashew said.
“If the winner doesn’t want to run a tattoo shop, the thinking is that they could perhaps sell their ticket,” Cashew said. “There are a lot of tattoo shops here, so there’s competition, but Las Vegas has such a large influx of people that come here, I don’t think it hinders anyone.”
The shop was closed for several weeks during the height of the pandemic last year, but business has remained steady, even though fewer tourists are coming to Las Vegas these days, Cashew said.
A few days ago, he had a tourist party of eight come in for tattoos. The most popular tattoos for tourists include those involving poker chips and the king and queen of hearts, Cashew said.
“These days, it’s almost strange to not have a tattoo,” Cashew said. “Fifteen years ago, it was a little different, but we have every type of person come in now. We have grandmas come in and soccer moms … having a tattoo is very common.”
Cashew doesn’t have any employees, although a handful of tattoo artists, including local artist Nic Fletcher, do regularly contract through the shop.
Visit winatattooshop.com for raffle details.