You’d think people would be afraid to order a Confederate flag after the riot in Charlottesville BUT this Alabama flag factory is seeing a huge jump in sales…The story of how this single flag manufacturer was started and has flourished is bittersweet…

ALABAMA FLAG & BANNER SALES SURGE!

Sales of Confederate flags surged at Alabama Flag & Banner, which may be the only company still manufacturing the flags in the United States. Belinda Kennedy, the owner, sees the flag as a historical symbol.

Rebel flag sales are up since Charlottesville. One north Alabama shop may be the only flag manufacturer in America meeting the increased demand.

Alabama Flag & Banner is located in a small strip near downtown Huntsville. Two years ago, the company began manufacturing the Confederate flag after retailers pulled it from their shelves in the wake of the mass shooting at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. in which nine people were killed by a white supremacist who’d been photographed holding a Confederate flag.

The country’s major flag manufacturers stopped producing rebel flags. Eventually, said longtime owner Belinda Kennedy, Alabama Flag & Banner became the go-to manufacturer for hundreds of retailers across the country looking to stock American-made Confederate flags. Online orders boomed, too.

Two weeks ago, after the deadly Charlottesville rally sparked a national debate about whether Confederate monuments should be removed from parks around the country, flag sales spiked again.

“After the church shooting (in 2015), Amazon and Walmart stopped selling (the flag) and people were afraid they wouldn’t be able to buy it,” she said. “And then you started seeing streets renamed, schools being renamed, mountains being renamed. And then people started getting angry.

“And then there’s another surge (in sales).”

Since 2015, Alabama Flag & Banner has sold an average of 600-800 Confederate flags a year. Before that, they typically made a handful of special orders per year because they were able to order flags from a larger manufacturer.

Kennedy said there are now Chinese-made flags available elsewhere, and she’s seen a handful of individuals online who hand-sew flags to order, but as far as she knows her business is the only one in the country currently manufacturing Confederate flags.

About half of the Confederate flags at her shop are a more labor-intensive appliqued flag which retails for anywhere from $93 to upwards of $200. The rest are a less expensive screen-printed flag, which costs $38.50 for a 3′ x 5′ flag.

“Everybody’s got a different reason (for buying),” she said. “By and large, I think people are afraid they may not be able to get it one day.”

Confederate flags represent only a fraction of her business, she said, and she has not needed to hire any extra help so far. She has a team of seven or eight seamstresses, some of them Hispanic, who work on the manufacturing side, hand-stitching appliqued flags and preparing the screen-printed flags.

Downstairs in Kennedy’s office is a double-frame picture of two of her great-great-grandfathers, who fought for the South in the Civil War.

“I think there is a bigger racial divide in our country than what we’ve had in many years,” said Kennedy. “I think a lot of it is (because) we’re trying to sanitize history. You’ve got white supremacists, but then you’ve got people like me who are history buffs, pushing back and saying, don’t change history.”

Removing Confederate monuments is not right, she said. She echoed President Donald Trump’s remarks about the Charlottesville violence, asking where the country should draw the line at removing monuments because founding fathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves.

The Confederate flag, in her view, has been co-opted for something it doesn’t represent. She hated seeing it carried by white supremacists in Charlottesville.

“When you’ve got people like the Ku Klux Klan and these neo-Nazi groups, the white supremacists, when they hijack the flag, that should be a crime,” she said, “because that’s not what the flag is about. But that’s what makes people so vehemently, adamantly opposed to the flag.”

Since 2015, Kennedy has been no stranger to attention, though she said she dislikes most of the publicity and news coverage surrounding the Confederate flag. Outlets such as CNN and Yahoo News have already interviewed Kennedy this week as part of coverage of the monument debate.

A self-avowed Daughter of the Confederacy, Kennedy does not see herself as a crusader for the Confederate cause. But she doesn’t accept that the flag – or monuments, for that matter – are anything more than a symbol of heritage or history.

“When we start trying to rewrite our history, we are forgetting our history,” she said. “Does anybody really think by taking down monuments and renaming mountains and taking down Confederate flags, that we are really going to see racism end? That’s not going to fix it.

Read more: AL.com


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