Nov 5, 2014

Get to Know a Patron: Jim Colligas of Colligas Family Markets

by: Virginia Harrison

When Jim Colligas bought a ShopRite supermarket at Front and Snyder Streets in South Philadelphia in 2005, he saw more than an opportunity to serve a community with his store. He also saw a way to bring his neighborhood together.

Jim and his wife, Suzanne, had long been fans of Mural Arts Philadelphia. What started as curiosity grew into admiration for the art of mural making and a deep understanding of the power of murals as storytellers.

One large façade of the store facing I-95 seemed like the perfect spot for a mural, so owner/operator Jim worked to fix up the property and contacted Mural Arts about putting a mural on his store. After a thorough process, artist James Burns was selected, and created Our Urban Landscape, a mural that represented the diversity of the store’s South Philly neighborhood.

“I wanted to communicate to the community at-large that we are a business that serves everyone, no matter their race or ethnicity,” Jim says. “Since the mural was created, business has been up 40 percent, and the number of African-American and Asian customers has increased. I attribute this success to the mural. It’s beneficial for any business to have a mural on its building because it says you care about people and you care about their city.”

Jim’s generosity to Mural Arts has continued long after his store’s mural was complete. When a member of Mural Arts’ crew showed Jim and Suzanne a number of murals that needed restoration work, the couple decided to direct their gifts toward restorations to ensure that as many of the public works of art remain as possible. Because of their deepened relationship with Mural Arts and obvious passion for our mission, Jim was asked to serve on the Board of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates.

“Once we started supporting Mural Arts financially, we became passionate about Mural Arts’ entire body of work,” Jim says. “Visiting the offices on Mount Vernon Street and seeing what kids in the Art Education program are doing after school, we got caught up in it. My store now participates in a program to hire people who have just been released from prison because we were inspired by Mural Arts’ Restorative Justice Program. We believe art really does ignite change.”

Photo by Steve Weinik

Last updated: Mar 21, 2016

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