A sign of progress

Volunteer restoring Fort Langley IGA sign locates important part

Mark Unrau says he can complete the restoration of the old IGA sign from the burned-out Fort Langley store now that he has been able to locate a crucial part.

After many weeks of frustration, Langley custom car builder Mark Unrau finally found the crucial part he needs to complete the restoration of the 50-year-old IGA sign from the burned-out Fort Langley store.

Heat from the Jan. 3 fire had melted the plastic on one side of the sign, and Unrau, a loyal store customer who volunteered to restore it for free on his own time, was unable to find someone willing to make a mold of the undamaged side to create a replacement.

Then Unrau mentioned the problem to the Lee family who owned the store.

That was when he learned there was a second sign of the same vintage, somewhere on the lot where the store burned to the ground.

Unrau found it under a cedar tree Monday afternoon (July 25).

He brought it back to his shop and cleaned off the accumulated muck and paint overspray from the part he needed, the backlit plastic oval with the old-style IGA logo on a bright red background.

It was untouched by the fire and in very good shape, with a few barely noticeable scratches and minor stains.

“Choice,” Urau said Tuesday, as he rolled it out of the Vintage Coach Works shop on Landmark Way for a Times photograph.

Unrau is now considering how to match the brighter colours of his new acquisition with the faded plastic of the fire-damaged sign.

“I’ve been at a dead stop,” Unrau said.

“Now I can get going with it.”

While he was stalled by the plastic problem, Unrau continued to work on the metal pieces.

Among other things, the rusted sign supports have been sand-blasted, re-welded and re-painted in a smooth powder-coat finish.

He said other Langley companies have helped with the project, including Balkan Signs, U-blast, Quik-Shot and Hi-Pro Coatings.

He is still looking for someone who can handle plastic moldings.

Unrau has been shopping at the IGA, the only supermarket in Fort Langley, for 20 years.

He has nothing but good things to say about the Lees, the family who own and operate the store and are known for service with a personal touch.

When the Lees modernized the more than 70-year-old building at Glover Road and Mavis Avenue a few years ago, they kept the old-style IGA sign that had been hung outside the entrance five decades ago.

When Unrau saw the sign had managed to escape the blaze relatively unscathed, he offered to repair it free of charge.

It was the first time he’s ever volunteered for anything, he said.

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