ELLSWORTH — In his brief time as a business owner, Rob Sibley has already had a wild ride.
It’s been just over five months since Sibley, owner of Disconnected Tattoo and Art Co., first opened his business on Ellsworth’s Main Street. Since then, he’s relocated and been forced to cease operations as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout all of it, though, Sibley has managed to make things work. Now, with his new shop inside the Maine Coast Mall up and running and artists free to resume their craft, business at Disconnected is booming as the second half of 2020 begins.
“[Our appointments] are booked all the way into August,” Sibley said. “Ever since we opened back up, everything has been full. We’ve been doing some great business.”
Sibley, who has been tattooing in Maine for four years after previously doing so in California and North Carolina, secured the shop’s original location on Main Street in January. The downtown location was convenient and the rent was affordable.
As Disconnected started to attract more and more business, though, it was clear to Sibley that he needed a larger space than the Main Street spot offered him. With a change in leasing necessitating a move regardless, the business spent the remainder of March moving into the Maine Coast Mall.
“We were deciding between here and Main Street, and with us not knowing how things were going to go at first, the Main Street place made a little more sense,” Sibley said. “The number of people we got in that month of being on Main Street made us think, ‘Yeah, it’s time to do something a little more serious here.’”
With the shop unable to conduct business following the executive order closing all nonessential businesses that went into effect March 25, Sibley used the resulting downtime to renovate the new site to fit his needs. Disconnected has been back up and running since June 12, the day rural tattoo shops became eligible to resume operations.
Disconnected, the brainchild of Sibley and Sumner Memorial High School graduate Derek Lucas, grew out of the duo’s growing dissatisfaction with how many shops operate in the modern tattoo and art industry. Whereas some shops take a huge cut of the money their artists make, Disconnected takes a different approach.
“We got tired of that, so we came here with the idea of, ‘OK, you pay a fee, but everything is included,’” Sibley said. “I don’t make any money off any of the artists here; they’re here for the love of art and to better themselves.
As its full name implies, Disconnected Tattoo and Art does more than just tattoos. The shop also does piercings and puts out its own clothing lines, a new one of which Sibley said is set to launch soon.
Opening up in Ellsworth, Sibley said, provided the business some distance from a Bangor tattoo market he called “overly saturated.” Although another shop, Tom Murphy’s Tom’s Terrific Tattoos, exists, Sibley sees the two as complements rather than competitors.
“Tom is just a real good dude. He’s kind of one of the godfathers of Maine tattooing,” Sibley said. “They do more of a traditional style of tattoos, and our style puts more of a modern, new-school spin on everything, so I feel like we’re not stepping on each other’s toes.”
Now that the hectic days of relocating and a state-mandated shutdown are behind it, Disconnected has firmly established its foothold in the Ellsworth business community. That means Sibley, who expects to fill appointments through September when he resumes booking, anticipates his shop will be around for the long haul.
“We signed a five-year lease here, so there’s no going anywhere,” Sibley said. “The people here at the mall have been awesome, and our artists and clients have been awesome. … Everything has just worked out for us.”