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Shop Local Gift Guide: With 17 Years Under Its Belt, Tempe's HTC Body Piercing Keeps on Evolving

Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 14:11

HTC 1

Ana Anguiano • College Times

HTC Body Piercing manager Kevin Jump

HTC 2

Ana Anguiano • College Times

Gift idea 1: Navel rings, $60-$80

HTC 3

Ana Anguiano • College Times

Gift idea 2: Olive wood/watch gear gauge earrings, $80

HTC Body Piercing

808 S. Ash, Tempe, 480.784.4460

Open: Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 

Piercing has come a long way, and the staff at HTC is dedicated to making sure their clients do it as safely as possible and as often as they please. The Tempe location has been open for 17 years and strictly focuses on body piercing only.

Kevin Jump, the manager of HTC's Tempe location, has been piercing for 16 years. In that time he has seen his clientele morph from punks and "liberal minded" people, to professionals and teenage girls.

Jump said the hardest part of deciding to get pierced is actually coming through the door, no matter how mainstream it may be.

The staff at all three HTC locations are highly qualified and has a minimum of five years worth of experience. Not just anyone can come into to HTC and apply to work. In order to become a piercer, one has to apprentice for several years.

"Usually you serve a formal apprenticeship where they do training, study books, and observe," Jump said. "Eventually you start piercing with supervision."

This, of course, depends on the company. There are three HTC locations in The Valley, and seven years ago they were bought by High Priestess Piercing, a body modification studio from Oregon. Under new ownership, they continued to focus their energy on being as highly trained as possible.

All HTC employees are members of the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), which is an international non-profit organization for people in the piercing, medical and jewelry industry. Together they share a collective knowledge to help keep a certain standard in piercing.

Not all piercers and every shop have to be a part of APP and Jump said laws are different depending on where you go.

"[Piercing] is something relatively new. [Legislators] don't realize how many people are being pierced," he said.

HTC is a part of the APP because of their stricter requirements.

"Anyone with a needle can say they're a piercer," said Mathew Coerper, an employee who has worked for HTC for three years and described Arizona as a "grey zone" in comparison to other states when it comes to piercing laws. "There are not too many laws and they are sketchy as best," he said.

"We want to show that we care," Coerper said. With a steady stream of customers walking into the Tempe shop, located near the ASU campus, the staff caters completely to them.

Jump breaks the ice with humor and puts his clients at ease. He teases them enough to get a laugh and prepares them for the piercing.

HTC also has a vast high-grade jewelry collection for clients to choose from. They have implant grade stainless steel, titanium and gold that are all made in the United States and have a lifetime guarantee.

They also have a collection of natural materials such as horn, bone, wood, stone and silicone. These materials require more maintenance, but it is all a matter of aesthetic.

Coerper said that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all in piercing. Everything is sized to fit the specific person, so they have to come in and make sure it's just right.

Piercings are a lot like hair styles. It's an aesthetic industry and is fad-driven. Eyebrow piercings seem to have passed, while nose rings have remained strong.

HTC takes walk-ins seven days a week.

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