Back in 2014 while visiting Florida, I took a trip to the legendary Lucky Supply Tattoo Museum. They were so welcoming and friendly, I couldn’t wait to go back. This time, they agreed to show us around the warehouses, pulling back the curtain on their production process, all the while surrounded by years of tattoo history.
Lucky Supply is a family owned and operated tattoo supplier established in 2000 by Jimmy Whitlock. Lucky’s has a strong passion for the highest quality products, with most products manufactured in-house or produced by a tight-knit group of tattooers. Jimmy and his team create some of the best equipment available, machining parts for your favourite builders, including Bert Krak, Aaron Cain and many other heavy hitters in tattooing. Having witnessed the process first hand, it’s clear that attention to detail is of paramount importance.
Lucky Supply Warehouses
Upon arriving at the supply warehouses, we instantly felt welcome. It was immediately evident everyone is very genuine and friendly. First stop, we met with Jimmy’s Dad, Bob, who started life in the medical industry before working for Jimmy. Bob joked and told stories about the beginnings of Lucky Supply and Jimmy’s early days. Jimmy’s son, Michael, also works for him and this 3 generation family/work dynamic creates an engaging environment that comes with unique challenges, but they make it work way better than could be imagined.
Next, we continued to see where the clip cords and power supplies are made, with some stunning designs and concepts, it’s obvious they experiment wherever possible to push ideas and see what works best. Many of the power supplies are custom engraved, often by some huge artists and others done in-house, each one as striking as the next. Mike Wilson has worked closely with the team frequently to help produce many of their new products. I had a dig through the machine drawers and immediately wanted to try them all. I know where to make my next purchases.
Onto the graphics department to be introduced to Aurora who is responsible for the product photos on the website and produces a range of printed media, such as business cards, for a bunch of different tattooists around the world; making for some incredibly cool designs. Aurora keeps a collection of her favourites in a portfolio, the quality was everything you’d expect from such a top tier company.
Once we finished up in there, we got discussing needles. Lucky’s is very passionate about tattooing, and it shows in every aspect of the business. They send their needles and others off for rigorous testing. If they find anything inadmissible in their competitor’s needles, they contact the companies to let them know. It isn’t about naming and shaming; it has never been. They just look to keep the industry safe and approach it in the most ethical way possible. Continuing to push the boundaries, Lucky has produced a range of spread mags which I haven’t seen anywhere else. I can’t wait to give them a try.
Nothing gets stocked at Lucky until it’s fully tested and more importantly, worth stocking. They support their friends within the industry, not the just next fad product to pop up. With only a couple of ink companies supplied and one stencil product, it’s clear this company isn’t just trying to become some giant supply company; they’re looking to provide quality and continue building something great.
After digging through the merchandise, I bumped into Duane Eddy McInerney, who I first heard about in our recent interview with Chad Koeplinger. He popped in to pick up some supplies, as many do. Tattooists love making the trip to collect supplies in person from Lucky as they know they will get an excellent service. You can instantly see what a close community they’ve created around the business. With a lust to buy almost everything they offered, not one thing felt out of place within such a supreme collection of supplies.
At this point, our time at the warehouses had come to an end but that was just the beginning of the trip as we were heading to Lucky Supply’s Tattoo Museum, which hosts a collection of tattoo memorabilia and related materials dating back as far as the early 1900’s.
Lucky Supply Tattoo Museum
A short drive and we were at the museum. Jimmy was waiting for us as it was now lunch time. A long-running tradition at Lucky’s is to take everyone on their first visit down to Winghouse. A Hooters-style joint where girls wear little for bigger tips. The place felt like a real throwback to what we expect of American culture from TV in the 90’s. Jimmy explained how he doesn’t particularly enjoy eating there anymore but has taken well over 1,000 people there. Who were we to break tradition?
Stories were told about Jimmy’s childhood and growing up around Largo. Everything he needs is within a 5-mile radius, and he rarely leaves it unless a convention calls him away. He continues to explain how he arrives at work insanely early, sometimes as early as 2 am. I can fully respect a need for the peace and quiet to get things done. As a family man, this is what works for him.
Once we’re finished up, we head back to the museum, and back inside to scope out the huge collection of classic machines, flash and other memorabilia, including complete tattoo kits, a stuffed monkey, boxes full of original acetates and newspaper clippings. Admittedly, I spent a long time digging through these, getting stuck in finding some real gems. It’s hard to believe how happy they are to let you rummage through some real tattoo history that others would keep locked away in their personal collections.
Out the back, I get to meet Michael, who’s busy building machines. You can indeed see Jimmy’s passion shine through in every part of our tour. He gets excited and grabs some partly finished frames and explains the 7-step process involved. It’s clear that just because they’re machined, it certainly doesn’t mean everything gets done for you, despite popular belief. Rick, their machinist, was finishing up on some freshly machined frames and didn’t seem to mind us disturbing his work to pick his brain. It really is refreshing to spend time somewhere that does everything in-house.
My time at Lucky Supply had come to an end quicker than I’d realised. Before I knew it, a whole day had passed and whilst the sun set on a beautiful Floridian evening, I was able to reflect on everything I’d seen that day. It’s clear to all who either use their products or better yet manage to meet them that the Lucky family care about tattooing above all else. Their work is appreciated the world over and I’m humbled by their generosity and taking the time out to show me around. I urge everybody who gets the chance to visit them and bask in genuine tattoo history for yourselves.
You can find more from Lucky Supply at:
Lucky Supply has also opened a European shop since our visit too which you can find here: