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Couple is brightening up the holidays with their holiday murals

Christmas is his busiest time of year. No, he’s not Santa Claus, but the job is roughly the same – to spread Christmas cheer and goodwill around the community.

With a car full of acrylic paint, giant markers and stencils, George Roach, a realtor for Century 21, and his wife Erin Roach, have been brightening up the holidays for local businesses for the past two years.

For a short span between the end of November and early December, the couple hit up as many businesses as they can to decorate their windows with holiday murals.

“It’s three crazy weeks,” Erin says. “We eat, sleep and dream Christmas paintings.”

It’s the perfect side job for Erin, a care aide  at the Campbell River Hospital and George, who says real estate slows down in November.

And the businesses love it.

Jim Costain, the owner of Dairy Queen, was the Roaches first ever customer back in 2013 and says he loves having the paintings done and this year even hired the pair to decorate his windows for Halloween.

What makes the murals unique is that the Roaches incorporate the business into the theme. At Great Canadian Oil change, there is a roadster with a Christmas tree in the back, and at Jiffy Lube, Mater from Pixar’s hit movie, Cars, dons a Santa hat while elves dance around him.

Last year the Roaches even did a complimentary window for Yucalta Lodge – a scene with Mr. and Mrs. Claus for the residents to enjoy.

The pair were also hired to paint the windows of stores lining Shoppers Row, with different businesses representing each of the 12 days in the popular carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas. The Roaches also did the storefronts in Tyee Plaza – some of them empty spaces – to tell the story of Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Erin says it’s a small way to tie the city together.

“We try to promote community spirit in Campbell River and it’s a way of drawing the community together, it’s a common theme,” says Erin, who adds that it’s also a great way to get involved. “It’s a nice way of getting to know the people who work in the store. You get to meet new people, you get to learn about the business and it gives you the opportunity to network which is important in a small town.”

It’s also a great way to generate business, and providing quality work doesn’t hurt either.

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George says business last year doubled with 40 businesses having their windows painted. The first year the pair did about 20.

That first Christmas, George had only just moved to Campbell River from Quesnel six months prior to be with Erin who grew up on Cortes Island and whom he was introduced to by mutual friends.

The couple – who married this August – quickly learned they also made a great pair when it came to art and the duo started to approach local businesses to see if anyone was interested in having their windows decorated for Christmas.

George was inspired by his sister who has been painting storefronts for the holidays over the past 25 years in Abbotsford.

During a visit over the holidays in 2012, she asked George to accompany her on a few jobs and he was hooked. After moving to Campbell River the following June, in 2013, he decided to give painting a shot himself.

Erin jumped right on board.

“I have no background in this but he inspired me,” she says. “We’re a good team because we’ve both got creativity and I can do the free hand stuff.”

The rest is left up to stencils, which the Roaches design and create themselves after they’ve brainstormed the theme and concept. They also create their own stamps, be it snowflakes or fall leaves for Dairy Queen’s Halloween window.

Once the window has been painted, it’s up to each individual business how long they’d like the mural to stay. For a small fee, the Roaches will come and clean the window after the holidays are over.

George says about 95 per cent of the businesses elect to go that route.

But clean up is still weeks away, with the holiday season now in full swing.

The Roaches are expecting to do more than 40 windows this year and have been at it since just after Remembrance Day, painting as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“We try to do them in one day, when we get into the thick of it, we try to do two or three a day,” Erin says.

“We try to put a lot of pride in to what we do,” she adds. “It’s going to be done efficiently and quickly and it will be quality work.”

Any businesses interested in having their windows painted can contact George at 250-203-5896 or by email, asyoulikeitart@outlook.com

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