Friday, March 28, 2003

Flag sales rising, but not
as sharply as after Sept. 11

Star-Bulletin staff and wire

Old Glory has been flying out of U.S. stores more briskly since the war with Iraq began, but not with the fervor that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, American flag producers say. And shops that stock anti-war banners, stickers and pins are finding more customers, too.

Sales of U.S. flags are 25 percent above normal so far this year for Annin & Co., the nation's largest manufacturer of the Stars and Stripes, said Dale Coots, spokeswoman for the Roseland, N.J., company. She added, however, that because the company sells to retailers and wholesalers it was hard to tell how much actual consumer sales had increased.

Mary Phillips, owner of Flags Flying, a flag shop in the Ward Warehouse shopping center, said sales of U.S. flags and pins increased right after the war began. "There was a bit of a pickup in sales," she said. "We were busy."

Asked if she had any customers looking for Iraq flags, she said she had a few people asking in jest, but, yes, she sold one the day the war started.

The cheapest Iraq flag she has is four inches by six inches and sells for $3.50. She has a wide range of American flags and patriotic lapel pins, she said.

Retail chains would not release specific sales numbers, but Kmart and Wal-Mart said they have seen nationwide increases in the demand for American flags and yellow ribbons, especially in towns with military installations.

One patriotic product that flag makers say has taken off wildly is the star service banner that families of military personnel display in their windows.

"The demand is absolutely crazy," said Brad Evans, general manager of Eder Flag in Oak Creek, Wis. "We're working two shifts and Saturday to fill orders."

Still, Evans said the recent boost is nothing like that seen after Sept. 11, when flags and other American emblems multiplied on cars and homes. "We've picked up in the last week or two, but it's not to the point of insanity," he said.

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