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U.S. Flag Sales Rising Since Iraq War

March 27, 2003

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, spokesman for the Roseland, N.J., company. He added, however, that because the company sells to retailers and wholesalers it was hard to tell how much actual consumer sales had increased.

Valley Forge Flag in Womelsdorf, Pa., the No. 2 manufacturer, reported a 15- to 20-percent increase in sales compared to a year ago.

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.

C. Britt Beemer of America’s Research Group, a consumer behavior strategic marketing firm, called recent U.S. flag sales a ``small drip drip drip vs. a gush of emotions after Sept. 11.″

Peace-oriented merchandise, meanwhile, is seeing a resurgence of its own, sellers say.

Dave Wampler, owner of the Simple Living Network in Trout Lake, Wash., said he can’t stock enough items with peace symbols, flags of the Earth and similar merchandise.

``It says to me that people are concerned, and for many people the American Dream has become somewhat of a nightmare,″ he said. ``They’re trying to find ways to speak out and say there are alternatives.″

Global Vision for Peace, a group that organized two months ago to use the Oscars as a platform to send a message of peace, commissioned a pin that emulated artist Pablo Picasso’s Dove of Peace.

Pins worn by some actors at Sunday’s 75th annual Academy Awards are now being auctioned on eBay, and more than 1,000 pins have been ordered, Global Vision co-founder Cliff Rothman said.

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