'It's kind of useless': Edmonton business owner frustrated after store targeted by tagging

An Edmonton business owner is comparing graffiti to urinating on private property after his store was vandalized this weekend.

Earth’s General Store solar panels and sign vandalized with graffiti

Earth's General Store has been vandalized with graffiti before, but never to this extent. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

An Edmonton business owner is comparing graffiti to peeing on private property after his store was vandalized this weekend.

Michael Kalmanovitch owns Earth's General Store on Whyte Avenue and 96th Street, which he said was graffitied Friday night.

Kalmanovitch said he appreciates meaningful street art, but the paint on his store's exterior resembles tagging, where people spray paint their name or initials.

"It's not respectful and it's not appreciated," he said.

"It's kind of like urinating to mark your boundary of your territory or something like that, or to say 'I've been here.' It's kind of useless."

This sign was painted by one of Kalmanovitch's friends, who has since passed away. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Large white tags were painted on the solar panels attached to the south wall of the grocery store. Kalmanovitch said he hopes the $15,000 panels can be salvaged with a simple paint remover.

Two walls were also vandalized, along with a sign that displays the store's name in the leaves of a painted tree. The work of art was painted by local artist Shelley Wales, and holds a lot of sentiment for Kalmanovitch.

"It's my only memory of her because she actually died seven years ago. And somebody graffitied the bottom of that sign," he said, noting he hopes another artist can paint over the graffiti.

Adara Hair and Body Studio, in the same shopping complex, was also affected by the vandalism.

A costly crime

These vandalized solar panels cost thousands of dollars. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Kalmanovitch estimated having all of the graffiti removed professionally could cost up to $1,000.

"I can't afford that. I'm a small business person. And $1,000 is a lot of money to me," he said, adding that the store has been the target of graffiti in the past, but not to this extent.

"We're a grocery store, we don't have very large margins. So when we have to put out money to clean that vandalism up, then I suffer financially quite a bit."

Kalmanovitch said the tagging has been reported to the city, which recommends removing graffiti as quickly as possible.

"Graffiti begets graffiti," he said. "So if you have one wall that has some graffiti on it, it's very much likely that other people come along and start tagging it as well."

A city representative could not be reached for comment, but the city's graffiti management website notes tagging isn't considered an art form. The city says tagging makes up 94 per cent of graffiti in Edmonton.