Consumers continue to buy stars and stripes

Despite economic weakness, the leading US flag maker expects a double-digit sales increase.

By Jonathan Berr Jul 2, 2012 11:56AM
Image: US currency (© Steve Allen/Brand X Pictures/Jupiterimages)Consumers, stressed out by the economy and the upcoming presidential election, are nonetheless feeling patriotic enough to buy more flags this year.

Annin & Co., which calls itself the country's oldest and largest flag maker, expects sales this year to rise about 11%, spurred by a patriotic fervor brought about by the Olympics and what many observers expect to be an extremely close race for the White House, according to Mary Repke, the head of marketing for the Roseland, N.J., company.

"Business is good for us this year," Repke said in an interview. "People are a little bit more into decorating their homes for the flag holidays."

Sales are not growing as rapidly as they were last year, when people were inspired to buy flags after the death of Osama Bin Laden and the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, she said.

Annin, which has been run by the same family since 1847, operates plants in Ohio and Virginia. In addition to Old Glory, the company makes historical flags such as the "Don't Tread on Me" Revolutionary War design favored by Tea Party supporters.

"We probably sold more of them last year than this year," Repke said.

Other big sellers include U.S. Marine Corps flags, state flags and those of foreign nations. The company also is the United Nations' principal flag supplier.

Though Annin and other flag makers pride themselves on making their products in the U.S.,  poles and other flag accessories are often made overseas because they aren't available domestically, according to the Flag Manufacturers Association of America.

The company, which employs about 500, including seasonal workers, makes about 3 million regular flags displayed on poles and 10 million stick flags annually. Its flags have flown during Civil War battles, the opening of Yankee Stadium in the 1920s and when astronauts reached the moon.

The flag business is "kind of recession-proof," according to Repke. It's easy to see why.

More than 60% of Americans described themselves as being "extremely proud" to be American and 25% said they were "very proud" in a 2011 poll conducted by CBS. Those numbers may change, given the often toxic nature of political debate on hot-button issues such as Obamacare and the economy, but they probably won't move much.

People interested in buying a flag for the Fourth of July can probably find a bargain. Retailers expect holiday sales to be less star-spangled than last year. A Visa survey found that people plan to spend an average of $191 to celebrate Independence Day, down from $216 a year earlier.

Jonathan Berr is glad that his son talked him into buying an American flag this year. Follow him on Twitter@jdberr.

Jul 3, 2012 9:11PM
people are buying flags because they are opposed to what obama is doing to this Nation...freedom is being lost at a fast pace under his leadership, so we are clinging to our bibles,. guns, and our flag....

BOUGHT NEW FLAGS, BRACKET ASSEMBLIES - COULDN'T FIND POLES - EVERYONE WAS SOLD OUT!!  Wanted to "deck out my deck" with American and Texas Flags.

Makes me wonder if Obama confiscated the poles!!  Wouldn't supprise me!!

Jul 4, 2012 9:35AM
Check the manufacturer of your flag, for so many of them are made in China these days. Damn, damn, damn! Our industries are falling over to other countries and we're going to be in big trouble one of these days.
Jul 4, 2012 8:50AM

As a proud American and a US Army Veteran I've noticed a trend here in the Northeast...I am in North Eastern PA (NEPAhood) and people are not understanding the correct way to display Old Glory. I personally have stopped, politely explained to several city dwellers the difference; and even asked permission to fix them. One of which was Inside Seasonal of one of our local Lowe's Store's!


Second, I realize the National Debt is out of control, but our Federal Building, US Post Office and several other governmental buildings are flying flags unfit for display. Faded, tattered, not fully raised, not lit at night. Really Federal Government buildings? Yet another good example of poor leadership for our citizens.

Jul 4, 2012 12:33PM
I purchase about 2 flags a year. I fly my flag 365 except during storms.
Jul 4, 2012 12:32PM
Let us keep our flag flying high for Americans and so other countries will know that even though we are not perfect,we love America.
Jul 4, 2012 1:31AM
I'd love to shove a Yankee Doodle Dandy up Obama's A$$!!!!
Jul 4, 2012 2:07PM

Today is the 4th of July our country’s Independence Day and

It’s TRULY SAD to see how un-patriotic the American people are!!!!

You can drive around my town and IF you happen to see a flag flying it’s usually at a government building or a grocery store NOT someone’s home!!!


It seems that the only time in the past years I have seen the American Flag flying all over my town was on September 11, 2001 the day the World Trade Center went down.


Does it now take a disaster of this kind for people to show their patriotism?????


I fly my flag EVERY DAY and I am red, white & blue through and through.






Show you’re TRUE COLORS & Fly your Flag!!!!




Jul 4, 2012 10:39AM

if the people want to keep that flag as she stands, we must vote obama out.

he will change this country to be down graded to a third world. this is what i believe this man is capable of, the mexican children right now is flooding the border without any

parents, this alone will change this country to it's worst, obamcare isn't going

to help no one, at least no one that cares for this country as it is.

Jul 4, 2012 9:09AM
Annin & Co is a great American  company. They sponsored the new music video "Stars & Stripes" by Nathan Osmond.  The song is an amazing tribute to our troops and their families.
Jul 4, 2012 3:21AM
Ya.......! Get out and wave your flag and take our country back!
Jul 4, 2012 9:02AM
My flag will be waving bye bye at Obama this November.
Jul 4, 2012 3:39PM

As a retired soldier and airman, I have fond memories of the great pride taken when seeing our flag flying over our various posts. Even today, I proudly raise and lower my flag on a daily basis and fold it into a triangle before retiring it. Somehow, twelve years overseas and two wars leaves a spirit of patriotism that cannot be put into words. It makes me extremely sad to watch our flag parading down the street with honor and able bodied men sitting on their asses instead of raising and honoring our flag with a salute or hand over heart. I want to say to them, "God bless America, you SOB!"


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