retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We got into a discussion yesterday of the growing acceptability of tattoos, and I commented:

Did you know that roughly 36 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 25, and 40 percent of people between the ages of 26 and 40, have a tattoo? Did you know that there are something like 20,000 tattoo parlors in the United States?

I was, to be honest, startled by these figures. (None of my kids, to my knowledge, are tattooed.) It is remarkable the extent to which something that not that long ago was considered to be only marginally acceptable now has become pretty much mainstream. We’re still at the point where tattoos are being covered up in many workplaces, but I’m guessing that this will also change at some point.

It is yet another marker of how the world has changed, and the extent to which businesses have to adjust their acceptability barometers. There’s nothing wrong with having standards, but we all have to adjust to broader cultural standards, or face possible irrelevance.

This isn’t always easy. I also saw a study saying that 14 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 50 have a pierced body part other than an earlobe. I still get a little queasy when a see a barista or checkout person with some metal thingie sticking out of an eyebrow or nose...but I may have to get over it.


One MNB user responded:

Always good to see the allegedly most advanced civilization in the history of the world imitating primitive tribes, makes you feel real positive about the future of this country…..just an opinion.    Don’t print the name if you use it, I don’t need to be recognized for my “narrow mindedness!”

You’re comment about your kids not having tattoo’s “to my knowledge” is great, I’ve heard many a parent state that only to find out…..good luck!


Another MNB user wrote:

I was quite interested in the stats you posted relating to the percentage of youth sporting tattoos.  As a Father of 2 daughters, both under age 25 I’ve learned that adorning their bodies with tattoo “art” is actually the “norm” amongst their peers.  Likewise, both girls have metal in on their bodies, with my youngest daughter leading the charge with no less than 5 piercings of which I am aware.  I don’t care to know if they have others, if you get my drift.

From another MNB user:

Sitting in the lead HR role for a mid-America based independent retail grocery chain I’ve also noticed that the tolerance shown by our store level managers in terms of what constitutes “acceptable” forms of “body art” and what is not acceptable through the years has morphed throughout the 90’s and the 00’s.  It’s nothing short of fascinating!  Same applies to hair color and hair styles that were once only worn by punk rockers are now commonplace among the proverbial “socker Mom’s” (multi-color layered hair that I first saw on Debbie Harry in the band Blondie back in the late 70's).

And, another MNB user chimes in:

I agree with your assessment - get with the times or be left behind.  Its not that I think that shaved heads featuring tarantula tattoos running down onto the visage will ever be acceptable in a retail environment.  However, I would suggest that the dress code variations I've seen at stores like Hot Topic, Spencers Gifts and Whole Foods are apt to be more commonplace as time goes by.  Please understand, none of this offends me!  But I also understand that the shopper who is older than I may not want to buy their deli items from an employee who has visible tattoos, body piercings, and wearing dreadlocks.  It should be noted that a dreadlock hairstyle would be acceptable if the employee is a Rastafarian - according to our labor attorney.

Point taken.
KC's View: