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Rejected: Local business owners claim discrimination – St. George Daily Spectrum

Posted in Tattoo Shop on May 19, 2017

Adam and Melini Roettger say local property owners have refused to rent to them simply because they own a tattoo parlor.(Photo: Emily Havens / The Spectrum & Daily News)Buy Photo

Located just off of Tabernacle Street in the Sunburst shopping center sits a tattoo shop that’s called the block-sized strip mall home for the past six years.

When AdamRoettger, owner of Vamp Body Art, was told by his landlord that the building had been sold in February, he and his wife Melini Roettger instantly began looking for a commercial property that was zoned correctly for their business. But the Roettgers have yet to find a space that’s both in the appropriate zone and has an owner who’s willing to rent to them, despite their positive track record and list of references.

Several other local businesses are looking for new properties as well. With much of the west side of Bluff Street being vacated for a project that will eventually widen the road, a significant amount of renters are moving out of their current buildingsand looking to move in elsewhere. The Roettgers are having an especially hard time since they can only move into two different zone types.

Adam Roettger, owner of Vamp Body Art, sketches at his desk. He’s been looking for a new commercial property for his tattoo parlor since February, with no luck.(Photo: Emily Havens / The Spectrum & Daily News)

So far, the properties that have met their needs and are within their price range have rejected the Roettgers’ offers, and the couple is alleging they’re doing sobased simply on the fact that they’re a tattoo shop.

“They’re turning us down for who we are,” Adam Roettger said.

Melinda Goodwin, a realtor from the Real Estate Collective who’s representing theRoettgers, said Vamp Body Art has been officially turned down by three properties, all of which she has personally reached out to.

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Goodwin said each one of the commercial property owners told her they did not want to rent to a tattoo shop. Melini Roettger said some have even gotten more specific in their rejections, saying things like, “We don’t want your kind here,” and, “You’ll lower our property value.”

“We’ve been told the most horrible things,” MeliniRoettger said.

Adam and Melini Roettger say local property owners have refused to rent to them simply because they own a tattoo parlor.(Photo: Emily Havens / The Spectrum & Daily News)

“He’s willing to pay the asking prices, he has a profitable business, he has a good rental history, good references … everything you’d expect from a business, he has it,” Goodwin said.

TheRoettgers have spent countless days driving around, looking for a new potential home for their business. MeliniRoettger said they would call on nearly every single one, and some that they contacted months ago are still sitting empty, like a property in the Sunset Corner center.

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At first, Goodwin said she was doubtful about Roettger’s claims, given the fact that she hasn’t experienced any issues prior to her representing the tattoo parlor.

“I hadn’t heard any negative thing ever about businesses being turned away,” Goodwin said. “I was doubtful. I said, ‘There had to be another reason.'”

Adam and Melini Roettger stand inside their tattoo parlor, Vamp Body Art, on May 18, 2017.(Photo: Emily Havens / The Spectrum & Daily News)

There are some examples when discrimination may not be the sole reason a business is rejected by a property owner, though. Pam Palermo, president and CEO of the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce, said a commercial property owner may want to curate only specific types of business or providers in his or her building.

Palermo said she sees St. George as being “extremely business-friendly,” but renters still have the right to rent to whomever they want.

“Whoever owns it has the right to refuse,” Palermo said. “Personally, if it’s a legal business, I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to rent to (the tattoo shop).If they were a chamber member, we would do everything we could to help them succeed.”

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The Roettgers have until August to vacate their current shop. There’s one prospective space in Santa Clara they’reeyeing, and they now just need approval from Santa Clara City to move forward.

In the meantime while the Roettgers wait for approval on the property located in Santa Clara, the two planto draft and deliver a formal letter about the issues they’ve experienced to St. George City.

Follow reporter Emily Havens on Twitter, @EmilyJHavens, and find her on Facebook at Call her at 435-674-6214.

Vamp Body Art has been located in the Sunburst shopping center off of Tabernacle Street for six years.(Photo: Emily Havens / The Spectrum & Daily News)

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