Lotus position

The Chrome Lotus tattoo parlor has, Elvis-like, just left the building. Taking over its spot at 112 West Second St. will be a new venture by Lulu’s Fashion Lounge: a shoe, purse and jewelry boutique.

Near tears, Chrome Lotus owner Teri Cameron said she’s sad to be leaving—especially in an exit that was hastened by Sheriff’s Office eviction notices plastered to the windows that “make it look like I did something wrong.”

Cameron said she took over the lease from previous tenant Neo Retro and, after running the parlor successfully for a year and one-half, she felt she had every reason to think she could keep renting there. She said her landlord, Mike Ballou, suddenly told her to get out; that the lawyers upstairs didn’t like her type of business, and he had a better renter lined up anyway.

This is where things get confusing.

“The lawyers upstairs” are Ken Roye and Mike Bush, known for their social advocacy and general liberal bent. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them had a tattoo somewhere. The person who answered the phone at their office said the idea that the attorneys had a beef is “absolutely false—that’s just wrong.”

Ballou must be the most hands-off landlord ever, because when I called him, he said, “I don’t have anything to do with those guys moving in and out.” He said he has “no clue” why Cameron left because “I didn’t talk to her.” Then he said: “Her lease just ran out.” He added, as he always does when I call about one of his properties, that all this is nobody’s business and shouldn’t be in the newspaper.

“I spent the year trying to be the best tenant I could be,” Cameron said. “We did a fantastic business.” She thought about finding another space in Chico, but, “as soon as you mention you want to move in a tattoo shop, you might as well mention you have AIDS.” Instead, she’s going to Hawaii to open a coffee shop.

Colleen Cannon, who owns Lulu’s with her mother, Debra Cannon, said she feels badly that Cameron had to go, but it certainly wasn’t because of their pending deal.

Now, the Cannons are focusing on the plans for their additional shop, which will be “kind of like an accessory parlor,” Colleen Cannon said. The Parisian-look shop will offer shoes, purses, necklaces and maybe even recovered furniture, aiming at a somewhat older demographic niche. They hope to be open by mid-March with “a cool atmosphere where people can come in and relax.”

Money talks

The Tri County Economic Development Conference boasted a turnout that was twice that expected, as those interested in the financial state of the region gathered Jan. 31 at Chico State University’s Bell Memorial Union.

Home prices are up, agriculture is in a downturn and tourism should be pushed, speakers said.

Dan Ripke, who leads the Center for Economic Development, introduced the just-released profile of Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties and went over some of the trends— for example, that retail trade has increased in Butte County. The three counties are somewhat insulated from aspects of the economic downturn, he said. "The bigger fear is the cutbacks at the state level."