Secret Tattoo Shop

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks … we moved Tattoo Zoo to a new location at 826 Fort Street. WHAT?? When/How/What?

I know. It’s a shocker. 🙂 I’ve been keeping this secret since January and it’s been killing me not to share. Ha ha.


Gerry and I have been casually looking for a new location for TZ for a while. Wharf Street rent is CRAZY expensive and we can’t keep up with it. Plus if you included the lack of tourists walking down that street because of the construction going on with the Blue Bridge … and the fact that the city also ripped up Wharf/Yates/Johnson street to replace the sewage pipes. Forgetaboutit. It’s a frickin ghost town down there.

And while we know the construction is temporary … it’s not the only reason we wanted to move. Gerry and I have had a ROUGH year and what we’ve realized is that we want a simpler/easier lifestyle. We work hard. Too hard. With this move – we have simmered down the vegetable stock a little. It’s less liquid to manage and has a deeper flavour. Ya know what I mean?? 🙂

We’ve been searching all over downtown Victoria for the perfect place and our prayers were answered!! As soon as we walked through the doors of 826 – we knew we found our new location.

I was feeling pretty good at the beginning of Jan when we viewed it and signed the lease. I was healing and getting stronger after finishing radiation. We had NO idea that the Tamoxifen was going to be so difficult on me. We thought I would be able to help Gerry put the new shop together but the Tamoxifen laid me flat on my ass and I was barely able to walk – let alone wield a paintbrush. I was heartbroken.

1516818_1426003994320749_1649724997_nThis is the part of the story where our amazing friends come in to help …

Everyone pitched in and helped us fix up the shop and get it ready. We could not have done it without their help and we will be forever grateful.

There are not enough words to say thank you. So we took everyone out for Sushi. 🙂

I get teary when I think about how little I was able to help with the construction when normally I’m up to my elbows in renovations. It was a real test for me to sit back and delegate. I wasn’t very good at it to be honest. Ha ha. I cried a lot because I was so incapacitated by the Tamox.

During all of this renovation we went to see my Oncologist and talked about the Tamoxifen. She agrees that I can’t take it. It is not the medication for me – so I am taking a “medication holiday” again … only this time for 3 months. I need time to heal and detox from the Tamox.

So I stopped taking Tamoxifen and 4-5 days later I started to feel like myself again. It was like I had woken up from a coma. Clear headed and with the pain subsiding I was able to find the energy to help Gerry get all the last touches done to TZ before the big move.

And then more wonderful friends stepped in to help…f0ed4cf4c37811e394da0002c9c7c4aa_8

We packed up TZ in less than an hour and had everything moved to the new location and moved in by 1pm. It was a great team effort. I love my tattoo family!!

It was really weird standing in the empty shop that Gerry and I have worked in for almost 15 years. That’s a long f-ing time. Nobody will ever understand how much blood sweat and tears we put into that place. I didn’t think I would get emotional about it but I shed a little tear saying goodbye to the old spot.


But the tears didn’t last long because Kramers only move forward. We don’t look back!! 🙂

And our new shop is AMAZING!!

We know we’re in the right place because on opening day it felt like we have been in this location forever. It feels like home in a way we were never able to achieve in the old location.


Plus it’s located on one of the coolest/busiest streets in Victoria. Our address at 826 Fort Street is right in the thick of it. There is food, shopping and so much community in the cross street of Fort/Blanshard. It’s exciting.

Even though I don’t technically work there – the new TZ location has a few “Sarah” touches throughout such as the Twin Peaks floor in the back room. I hope David Lynch approves.  🙂


There’s also a secret garden through the back. We are the only ones who have access to it and my plan is to fix it up this summer and have it be a nice place to hang out while you wait to get your tattoo.


One of my favourite features is the huge skylight in the middle of the shop. That’s where we decided to put the library/drawing table. So now all the artists congregate there when they’re drawing/painting. It’s really cool.


We had our friend Chris Dobell come and hand-paint the windows. He is an amazing talented sign painter and he did SUCH a good job. I’m not sure if you can see it from the photos but the shiny parts in the lettering are copper-leaf. It’s gorgeous!

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My favourite part about the new tattoo shop location is how it’s given Gerry his groove back. It’s been a hellish year and this mitzvah has shifted everything. There is a lot more smiling at the Kramer house. It’s good. It feels good.  🙂


I am so thankful to all our friends who pitched in to help. Thankful to all of our clientelle who came running to see the new shop to book an appointment for a tattoo. And to our artists who make beautiful tattoos for us every day.

We. Are. Stoked.

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15 Responses to Secret Tattoo Shop

  1. Rebecca says:

    Congrats you two on the new location. You both look really happy and I am glad that you are not only getting your energy back but, your smile as well. I will be moving this summer wanna come and help? Lol. Just kidding about the helping.

    Take care.

  2. Catherine says:

    Congratulations – the new shop looks gorgeous.

  3. ann says:

    Aaaarg! I can’t wait to see the new place! 😀 xoxo

  4. Esther Patrick says:

    This is so cool, Sarah! The new place looks amazing. Really happy for you and Gerry. That’s great about the Tamoxifen too. It sounded like it was doing more harm than good, when you think about the long-term effects of that much pain and distress on your body and your mind. Here’s to a happy, healing and joy-filled ‘meds holiday’ over the next few months for you!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Sara,
    I left two comments on your blog just now but on posts from last March. I was diagnosed with stage three IDC last April and live in the lower mainland. I had regular mammograms starting in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and then whamo stage III cancer in 2013. I have been interviewe by Mi-Jung Lee of CTV as she also had an experience with cancer due to breast density. In 14 states there is legislation that women be told they have dense breasts. In Canada there is nothing. MP Patrick Brown tried to put a private member’s through government but it is stalled in the Senate. I have started a blog but more importantly an online petition to try and get reporting a requirement in BC. When I left the first two comments I didn’t see the Victoria address, just saw it when I hit “home”. Please can you take a look at my petition and if you are willing sign it. Also if you could post a link to it that would be great. I am having difficulty getting the word out.
    Hope all is well with you. I am on Tamoxifen for 10 years and monthly goserelin shots which are wicked.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Just read your blog from your mammogram. I had four rounds of the dreaded AC two weeks apart, and then four rounds of Taxol two weeks apart. Three weeks off, then 28 days of radiation. A month off and then a modified radical mastectomy. Even with chemo and radiation there was still active cancer in pathology and cancer cells were spread over 13cm! Like you I suffered with chemo, blurry eyes, mouth sores, hand and foot condition, and more. Thank goodness for Dr. Google! The handout I got was rather old and didn’t list everything. I guess they don’t want to scare us. I am so bloated from the Tamoxifen and Goserelin or Zoladex. I have had one month off the shots and begged for another. The sweat pours off me numerous times a day and don’t ask me about restorative sleep! The night sweats on goserelin left me with a soaking wet bed numerous times a night. I told the GPO I would go back on it may 29 and fear that decision. My life will be hell again! I hear and totally get all you are going through. I am dripping in sweat as I type this. There is no Encore at the YWCA here. It sound like a great program. I did so much research on my own especially about lymphoedma.
    You have so many followers that if you could share my petition as a post I would be very grateful. With your permission, I would like to put a link to your blog from mine.

    Thank you so much for your openness and honesty with BC!
    P.s. My parents live in Victoria so if you ever want to meet in person leave me a comment on my blog.

  7. Adam says:

    So very happy for you and Gerry. Glad you are feeling g better and on a better place..kinda literally.

  8. Patrick says:

    Love the new shop, especially the Twin Peaks floor! My husband and I will need to take a trip up there and get some vegan ink.

  9. Nikola says:

    Hi, just wanted to say you have great looking place, and wanted to ask what material you used for Twin Peaks flooring? 🙂

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