Graffiti artist helps chamber stay on message

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—Someone used an anti-establishment means to convey a message that community business leaders like to hear. “Buy local” has been spray painted at a few locations, including an alley between Fourth and Fifth streets, just north of North Avenue.



When you think of graffiti, curse words, gang signs or lewd images may come to mind. But lately around Grand Junction, at least one tagger has adopted a slogan that local business leaders applaud: buy local.

That’s the message in 4-foot-high bubble letters and about the length of a sport utility vehicle on a vacant building that backs up to the Grand International Buffet, 2504 U.S. Highway 6&50. The same message scrawled in a similar style is plastered on a shed in an alley between Fourth and Fifth streets north of North Avenue. There are other sightings near North Avenue.

For years, getting the message out to folks to buy local goods has a been a rallying cry of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Development Authority. To have the phrase showing on buildings painted by a graffiti artist could be viewed as an encouraging sign of the times, local business leaders said, although it’s unfortunate that a vandal is tagging buildings without permission.

“It’s not a bad message. It is a bad method, though,” said Heidi Hoffman Ham, executive director of the Grand Junction Downtown Development Authority. “I would be curious to know their motivation.”

Diane Schwenke, executive director of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said she hasn’t noticed the graffiti. She also wants to be clear.

“It’s not the work of the blue band committee,” she said.

The chamber’s blue band effort allows participants who wear a blue band bracelet to receive discounts at a number of participating local retailers. Bands can be picked up at the chamber office, 360 Grand Ave., or at several other businesses. A complete listing of participating businesses and the discounts they offer is listed on the chamber’s website, gjchamber.org.

Scwhenke said the graffiti sightings are an interesting trend.

“I kind of have mixed feelings about it,” she said. “We wanted to change attitudes, even if we are getting down to the level of graffiti artists. But we don’t condone it being done in such a destructive manner.”

According to industry statistics, every dollar spent locally generates $3 more of economic activity locally. Schwenke said those estimates are conservative and the impact of $1 spent locally could be as much as $7. Results so far from Grand Junction’s buy local campaign, which was launched in May, have been mostly anecdotal. The chamber expects to conduct a more formal survey in the new year.

“It’s going viral in a whole different manner,” Schwenke said of the graffiti.

People who report graffiti on their property in Mesa County can have it painted over at no cost. For information about the program offered by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department and the Grand Junction Police Department, call 243-WASH or 243-9274.


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