BILLINGS — A Billings tattoo shop, Rise Again Tattoo at 1343 Central Ave., seemingly packed up shop and disappeared overnight, leaving behind a wake of angry customers who bought thousands of dollars in gift certificates with no way to redeem them.
Customer Kayla Hageman of Billings loves tattoos and says she loved visiting Rise Again Tattoo.
Or at least she did.
That all changed when the shop unexpectedly closed its doors last week, just days after Hageman received a $400 gift certificate for more ink.
"It’s just really disappointing to be treated like that after spending so many years, so much money and so much time in the shop," said Hageman.
And Hageman isn’t the only customer now left in the lurch.
"The week before Christmas, he sold a bunch of gift certificates, thousands of dollars' worth of gift certificates. And then fled the state. Now there’s nothing in the shop so all of these people are out of money," said Billings resident Jackee Taylor.
Taylor has confronted the owners of Rise Again about several other concerns over the past year.
"He was using other artists' pictures to depict his shop and saying he did them, and there are screenshots, there are responses from his wife and the person running his Facebook page. Saying those were done by a member of his shop and they absolutely were not," added Taylor.
"It’s just super dishonest when you have artists that aren’t that talented and you’re posting these amazing, beautiful skilled tattoos saying that your shop can do these, it's just really misleading," Hageman said.
MTN reached out to Rise Again by phone and messages to the shop's Facebook page to ask about those allegations and why the business has suddenly closed. Calls and messages weren’t returned, but MTN did speak with an employee at the business Wednesday who claimed the business is closed for remodeling.
On Thursday the business contacted Q2 to say it would reopen the Billings location on Feb. 2, but declined to speak further on the record.
But Hageman isn’t buying it.
"They used to be such a bright part of this community. They used to do so much, and they used to have such a positive reputation when they first opened. And it just went downhill for them, really fast," Hageman said.
Fortunately, for her, there’s a positive outcome to this story. Whitney Donohue, owner of Forget Me Not Tattoo at 2059 Broadwater Ave., heard about what happened and told Hageman, a former client, she would volunteer to honor the $400 gift certificate.
"People are worth more than that to me, my clients are. And it’s a pretty crappy ordeal, especially a Christmas gift," said Donohue.
And that kindness inspired a close friend of hers to do the same.
"It was a really crummy thing that they had done, right before Christmas, offering this 2-for-1 deal. A lot of people come in, pay the money and then they skip out of town, and I just don’t think that it's right and I want to do something. I want to show that the Billings community, there’s a lot of good people here," said Wayne Wilcox, a friend of Donohue.
Wilcox is setting up a program that will allow those who lost money, to go to a different shop in town and redeem their purchase, helping make a bad situation a little easier to navigate.
If you were affected by the closure of Rise Again tattoo, contact Wilcox to find out more at: (406) 697-9800, orcheck out his Facebook page. Or call Whitney Donohue at Forget Me Not Tattoo at: (406) 702 -1784.