Businesses join fight against graffiti

Ace Hardware paint specialists Terri Weems and Paula Henderson stand July 8 near the spray paint at their Hermiston store. Sarah Britain/The Hermiston Herald

While there isn't a city ordinance requiring businesses to do so, some local businesses are putting the bite on graffiti by requiring customers buying spray paint to prove they're older than 18.

"That's the standard since we opened our doors," said Kathryn Gallagher, spokeswoman for The Home Depot. "We don't sell aerosol paints to minors."

Gallagher said registers prompt cashiers to check identification for purchases of spray paint.

At Big Lots, the story is the same - cashiers ask for identification. A Hermiston Big Lots employee, who asked to remain anonymous - said the employees watch out for sales of spray paint.

"To prevent graffiti," said the employee.

The Hermiston Herald's efforts to get a response from Big Lots' public relations department failed before deadline.

Ace Hardware employees do not ask for identification for spray paint purchases; however, owner Tammy Smith says her cashiers have no trouble calling the police if they think something isn't right.

"We might question if someone bought a whole lot" of spray paint, she said.

Checking identification could crimp plans for 4-H and FFA students, Smith said. Eagle Scouts, too, buy spray paint for projects.

Ace Hardware also donates paint for graffiti-removal projects. Smith said students at one of the elementary schools painted over graffiti on an elderly woman's home.

Calls to the Wal-Mart and Bi-Mart public relations departments were not returned by press time.

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