If you can’t beat them, you might as well join them.
That’s just what Molly and Dale Willis did when they got fed up with kids “tagging” the sides of their Edmonton, Calif. c-store with graffiti. To retaliate they called in local graffiti artists to paint the walls and windows of Molly’s Mini Mart, Sun Media Corp. reported.
“We’ve only just started,” said Dale, “but so far it’s going well. Nobody has tagged us since it began. Actually, (the art) is turning out far better than I expected it to.”
The rules are simple: no swear words and no gang symbols.
Molly has a friend with knowledge about gang tags who will review everything as it goes up to make sure there are no hidden messages.
The Willises also plan to invite kids to use a large blank wall on the side of the store as a “free wall” where graffiti will be allowed.
“We’ll be out there watching them and making sure nobody passing by thinks they’re vandalizing the place,” Molly said.
Not everyone in the city appreciates the graffiti idea.
Back in April, Sherwood Park RCMP urged local residents to keep reporting graffiti, which they called a significant problem in the community. A crackdown a few years ago led to 121 charges in a matter of weeks.
Things have gotten so bad in Edmonton that the city will fine building owners who don’t clean up graffiti quickly enough. In a single year, 825 properties were given warnings.
“The problem for a lot of kids is that they don’t have a place to express themselves,” said Molly. “If you give them a place to do that, schools and other places won’t get hit so much.”