Originally created 09/24/01

Renewed patriotism boosts banner sales



SAVANNAH - Who would have imagined that patriotism would become a hot commodity?

Since the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, American flags and other patriotic symbols have been big sellers at Savannah businesses.

But the owners say they are more inspired by the show of patriotism than by any profits they are making.

"I would rather not ever sell another American flag than to have ... (terrorist attacks) happen," said Pat Robinson, the owner of Savannah Sails and Rails.

Flag sales at the River Street store are up 75 percent.

And at virtually all businesses in town that sell American flags, there is a backlog of orders.

At Image Sign Co., owner Stephen Buttimer said dozens of people have called to seek flags. He added that he has been telling callers they will have to wait six to eight weeks.

"Typically, it would only take seven to 10 days to get a flag," Mr. Buttimer said. "We're taking orders, but most people want to keep calling around."

The rush of buyers took Ms. Robinson by surprise.

"I didn't sell one American flag over Labor Day, and I had ordered extras for the holiday," she said. "And now that this has happened, the 1,000 American flags I had - from size 2-by-3 (feet) to 20-by-30 are gone."

Ms. Robinson said she expects a shipment of flags next week. The standard 3-by-5-foot flags sell for about $20, Ms. Robinson said.

One thing Ms. Robinson said she won't do is buy U.S. flags made overseas.

"I received a fax telling me that a large container was due in with flags made in China," Ms. Robinson said. "It said we could order as many as 10,000. I'm not going to do it."

Other businesses in town that sell flags say they order most of their American flags from two manufacturers - Eder Flag Co. in Wisconsin and Annin and Co. in New Jersey.

A recorded message at Eder says that "due to the patriotism of our country," the lag time for flag orders is four to six weeks and growing.

A similar recording at Annin and Co. says the company is a manufacturer rather than a retailer of flags but does offer a Web site with locations of flag dealers.