By Catalina Righter
Starting this month, students or staff will not have to travel quite as far to fulfill their desire for ink or piercings. Zombie Fish Custom Tattoos and Curiosities will be opening at 516 Morgnec Rd. Owner and Proprietor Morgan Lee Wallace, known as Papa Mo, said that the meaning behind the name is “kind if a long story, but it started with this feeder fish I saw a pet turtle bite the face off of. It was gnarly.” This image stayed with him and evolved into the zombie fish. He liked the idea of a long name “like Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus,” but “then shortened it to ‘Zombie Fish Custom Tattoos and Curiosities.’”
The tattoo needles at Zombie Fish are staffed by Wallace and his cousin Zachariah Lee Learned, aka Ziggy Tat, while the piercing needle is wielded by Shop Manager Justin A. Harris. Meredith Allyn Thomas, known as Mama S’mer, serves as the shop’s buying agent and is also Wallace’s fiancé. According to Wallace, “[he] and Ziggy have both been tattooing for about 10 years, and Jay has been piercing a little longer than that.”
“I always thought Chestertown was nice,” he said. “I used to come here when I was younger and hang out at the College…. It just seemed like the right place for a shop. So one day I took a ride over here and sort if stumbled across the spot…. It just sort of all started falling into place.”
The Chestetown Planning Commission can be notoriously picky about the businesses they allow, having earned Chestertown the title, “the town that beat Walmart,” but Zombie Fish has encountered no problems. Wallace said, “Everyone at Planning and Zoning has been very helpful. I had a few problems with getting the place up to code, but my landlord worked with them to make it happen.”
He describes the atmosphere of the shop as “casual” and is “letting it grow organically…. I always thought if I had my own shop that it would be something pirate-y, but that theme has kind of been beaten to death around here,” he said. Currently the shop is set up with comfortable leather furniture, granite countertops, vintage posters, and an air-hockey table. Despite the lack of pirates, Wallace has not totally abandoned the water theme. In the future, “There will be several fish tanks. I’ve always loved fish and find them very relaxing and entertaining.”
Once the shop has been established, they will add a retail component to provide the “curiosities” promised by the shop’s name. “We will have all kind of cool stuff, from New Age things such as incense and tarot cards, to some [zombie apocalypse preparation] stuff, to anything I can find that I think is cool enough to be a curiosity. I’m by appointment on Wednesdays so that I can go to Crumpton Auction and look for cool stuff.”
There was a grand opening party for the shop held March 4 at 2 p.m. Wallace said, “I will definitely be looking forward to doing business with the students. We will be offering a 10 percent discount for students as well as public servants, EMTs, police, fire, military, etc.” There are also possible plans for spoken word and open-mic events in the future.