ROCHELLE — On Friday, a ribbon cutting event was held for Steder Tattoo, a tattoo parlor at 507 W. 4th Ave. downtown that is now open.
Officials from the city, members of the Rochelle Chamber of Commerce, members of the community and friends and family of the owner, Mat Steder, were in attendance. Steder comes from Raven Tattoo in Dixon and services a lot of Rochelle residents already. The business is Rochelle’s first tattoo shop.
"It was breathtaking,” Steder said. “I wasn't expecting the turnout to be this big tonight. It was a wonderful feeling seeing everyone come out to support me. I just appreciate everybody coming out. It just blows my mind. I'm speechless."
In the past few months since having a special use permit approved by the city council, Steder has been working to get the space ready for business. He said that at times, the work felt like a “never-ending story,” but he got the shop finished, complete with merchandise.
“I've told my wife multiple times that I'm tired of building and I just want to get back to tattooing,” Steder said. “I'm very excited to get back and do what I love doing."
Steder is a Rochelle resident. He and his wife are expecting a newborn in February and that played into his decision to open up a shop closer to where he lives.
Last week, he started taking appointments to fill up the rest of January and the first week of February. The shop will be appointment only. Once those dates are filled, Steder’s books will be closed until after his child is born. Once he returns to work, he’ll be booking appointments on the first of every month.
“I've already seen the crazy flow of people wanting to get tattoos, even though I haven’t even been open yet,” Steder said. “It's just a really good feeling that I have so much support. It's wild to see that."
Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows attended the ribbon cutting event on behalf of the city to welcome Steder and said he’s excited to have another new business in town.
Bearrows said he’s proud of the work the city has done to fill its downtown buildings. A business like a tattoo shop can keep dollars local in more ways than one, he said.
“This is one of those quality of life things, Bearrows said. “There's people who want to go to a tattoo shop and they're leaving town to go somewhere else. When they go somewhere else, they may eat there or get gas there. Here, they'll stay in town and keep that spending local.”
Rochelle Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tricia Herrera attended the event and said she’s happy Rochelle will be able to provide a new type of business with Steder Tattoo.
“We're really excited to have this here,” Herrera said. “And it also shows the city is moving forward a little. The codes had to be changed to allow this business. We're really excited about that, that we're not limiting the type of businesses that can come here. If a new business wants to come here, come and talk to the chamber and the city. It's always a possibility, nothing's out of the question."
Herrera said she was impressed with Steder’s space, which was previously empty.
“He has taken it and given the time and effort with his wife to make this a great, welcoming environment,” Herrera said. “I think that even if you're not a tattoo person, you would be welcomed here and you would think this is such a high standard of quality and workmanship that is in this building. The pride in his business shows and those are the types of businesses we feel are a great fit here in Rochelle. We're very happy and excited for him."
Following the ceremony and the work done to get his shop ready, Steder said he felt accomplished. In the past, he’s talked about wanting to get more involved in the community to follow in the footsteps of his late father, Ron, who owned and ran Steder Diesel and Steder Trucking in town during the 1990s. That day has come.
“I just wanted to get my foot in the door,” Steder said. “Now I feel like my whole body's in the door and I can finally do the work. I can finally make a difference. I can help out and put my time and effort into the community and make it better."