Ojas Cats stands outside his new business, Cats Tats in Port Alberni. He painted the mural himself to brighten up the building at Pemberton and Gertrude. TERESA BIRD PHOTO

BUSINESS BEAT: Innovation drives new Port Alberni tattoo artist

Businesses opening and re-opening in Uptown Port Alberni

BY TERESA BIRD

Alberni Valley News

When Ojas Cats opened a tattoo shop in Nelson, BC 21 years ago, things were different in his industry. He sought to change the culture by doing things a bit differently.

“I have always been a bit of an innovator,” says Cats, who recently moved his shop Cats Tats to Port Alberni. “I had daytime hours, which was unheard of then. I was the first tattoo artist to get support through Community Futures in Canada. And I was the second in Canada to work with a rotary machine.”

In his shop he tries to create a “spa-like” experience for his clients with aromatherapy and sound therapy. He uses environmentally friendly materials, like vegetable-based inks and has developed his own 100 percent organic cream he calls Tat-Dew that reduces redness and scabbing.

“It’s not just about putting a picture on your body,” says Cats. “It’s a healing experience. Everybody who comes in, comes in for a reason even if they don’t realize it.”

Cats has renovated the former car dealership office at the corner of Pemberton and Margaret, next to Manzini’s Animal Clinic. Call him at 250-352-5575 or learn more at www.cats-tats.ca

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Healthy Habits has opened their new location on Upper Third Avenue, in the business that was formerly the Pine Café. The new shop also includes a bike shop with a selection of bikes, bike gear and parts. They are open Monday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 240-724-6280 or follow them on Facebook.

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The long-anticipated opening of Brie & Barrel Bistro has arrived with evening hours Wednesday to Sunday. The restaurant is located in the iconic Carters Shoes building on Argyle Street and is owned by Colin and Sharie Minions. The menu includes a variety of daily specials, pasta, vegan offerings, desserts and more all paired with wines and whiskies. Reservations recommended. Call 250-724-0010.

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Portal Curios and Oddities held a grand re-opening art show Sunday July 21 at the shop. After a winter of renovations, they celebrated with new artists’ works being added to the store at the corner of Harbour Quay. Open Thursday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Follow them on Facebook or call 778-863-5202

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Renovations at CJ’s Place Restaurant, also on Argyle Street are complete and owner Crystal is updating the menu to match the new digs. Drop by for new options including a Beyond Meat burger, steak and prawns and more. Call 778-402-8729.

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The restaurant space on Margaret Street next to the Alberni Valley News office has also undergone a winter of renovations and is now open for business. Valley Catering and Lunch is owned by Wendy McKinney and offers breakfast and lunch items as well as catering for all kinds of events. Open Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 778-419-1659.

Teresa Bird is the Alberni Valley News publisher.

E-mail your business tips to publisher@albernivalleynews.com

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