By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Just because you donate to the Tats 4 Turkeys food collection program at Imperial Art Studio in the town, doesn’t mean you have to use the gift certificate you get in return for some ink of a turkey on your bicep.
Well, you could, but it’s certainly no requirement.
Those who contribute to the Tats 4 Turkeys or Piercings 4 Poultry food donation to benefit the Food Bank of Western New York at the tattoo shop will get a pretty nice return on their investment.
Participants will receive a $25 gift certificate for a tattoo at Imperial Art Studio in exchange for bringing in a $15 gift certificate to a grocery store — that’s in lieu of a turkey so that, as Imperial owner Gavin Royce puts it, “we don’t end up with a bunch of raw turkeys” at the shop.
A $25 grocery store gift certificate gets donors a $35 tattoo gift certificate, and five non-perishable food items brought in to help round out Thanksgiving dinner will result in a $25 certificate for a body piercing. The piercing certificate is good for a nose, lip, bellybutton, ear or eyebrow piercing, said Katherine Molinaro, one of the head coordinators of the Niagara Tattoo Expo along with Royce.
Imperial Art Studio is accepting donations through Monday to give them enough time to get food on the tables of some families in need before Thanksgiving on Nov. 22. The shop is working in concert with Terror Technologies, Kenmore-based event promoters who have a penchant for zombie makeup.
Greg Hinaman, Terror Technologies founder, said he and his zombie crew will work with Imperial Art Studio to cross-promote the food drive by getting bloodied up to stand outside the tattoo shop on Sheridan Drive. The goal is to attract visitors.
“When you’re walking around all bloody looking like a zombie, people ask questions,” Hinaman said with a laugh. “When they find out it’s about charity, a lot of people get interested.”
Terror Technologies began as a way for Hinaman to promote a haunted house he ran out of his Kenmore residence for years until this year, and even though the haunted house attraction is no more, his group of some 160 zombies still dress up to help raise funds and food for charity, and even blood for UNYTS.
“Our motto is ‘we play dead so that others may live,’ “ he said. “You just get good feelings out of it when you go down to the Food Bank as a zombie and take a few hundred pounds of food.”
Royce has no idea what kind of turnout to expect at the tattoo shop. This is Imperial Art Studio’s first food drive and only its second charity push in its year of existence, after October’s Tats for Tatas event, which collected about $1,000 for the American Cancer Society. The shop is giving to charity, he said, because now that he has found success, he wants to give back.
“If one person has a Thanksgiving meal, great, if 100, even better,” Royce said.
“A lot of people always give you that first sterotypical glance, like ‘this guy’s got tattoos on his hands and his neck and his face and he’s got to be some kind of jerk or drug addict,’ “ he said. “But it seems like the minute I open my mouth to speak to them, I surpass that (expectation).”
“They realize we’re not a bunch of idiots. We’re out here using the art form to try to help others.”
After November’s Tats for Turkeys promotion, Imperial Art Studio will be holding a Tats for Toys fundraiser ahead of the Christmas holiday. Royce said the shop plans to accept one or two preferably unwrapped toys in exchange for $35 and $50 tattoo gift certificates during the drive. For more information about either promotion, call the shop at 862-8282.DONATION PROCESS • WHAT: Tats 4 Turkeys & Piercings 4 Poultry to benefit the Food Bank of Western New York • WHEN: Now through Monday • WHERE: Imperial Art Studios, 2353 Sheridan Drive, Town of Tonawanda • DETAILS: Bring a $15 grocery store gift certificate to the shop and get a $25 voucher for a tattoo; $25 grocery store gift certificate gets you a $35 voucher for a tattoo; and five non-perishable food items gets you a $25 body piercing. • MORE INFORMATION: Call 862-8282 Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.