By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Sep 28, 2004 at 5:23 AM

{image1}From stars to sacred hearts to self-created designs, tattoos embellish the bodies of many Riverwesterners, and for some, they are as much a part of their culture as weekend chili at the Fuel or Packers games at The Uptowner.

So, why isn't there a tattoo shop in the neighborhood?

"I don't have any idea," says Riverwest Alderman Mike McGee. "I wouldn't object to it."

It's rumored that part of the reason is due to a particular landowner named Robert Klavetter.

"He (Klavetter) owns a lot of commercial space on Center as well as residential buildings in the rest of the neighborhood," says Scott Johnson, owner of Center Street's Fuel Cafe.

Klavetter has a reputation for asking high prices for his rentals and being particular with his tenants. When interview, Klavetter was tepid towards the idea of a tattoo shop in the neighborhood.

"I think an art gallery would be better for the neighborhood, but I'm not opposed to the idea," claims Klavetter.

Wendy Hodorff, an employee at Fuel, thinks a tattoo parlor would do well in the area. "A lot of younger residents have them already," she says. "But a lot them get them in their homes."

"A lot of tattooers work out of their homes because they can choose their clientele and the overhead is less," says Johnson.

There are six tattoo shops east of the river, so competition is undeniably a factor. Competition is one of the reasons why Riverwest's John Reiter, who recently opened Solid State Tattoos, decided to start his business in Bay View.

"I thought about Riverwest, and I thought about the East Side, but the market there seemed over-saturated," says Reiter. "Plus, the right opportunity came along for me in this space."

Reiter, who owns a house in Riverwest, says there weren't many available spaces in his neighborhood when he was looking .

James Williamson points to a number of recently-available storefronts, both on Center and north of Center on Bremen Street.

"With Fuel on Center and the Foundation around the corner -- both heavily populated by tattooed people -- that area would be the ideal spot for a tattoo shop," says Williamson.

"Kids would be sitting in the Fuel just waiting to turn 18 so they could run around the corner and get one," he says.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.