More than two weeks after terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., patriotism is still running strong if measured by the number of American flags sold.
Marty Smith, owner of the Flag Store Sign and Banner in Sparks, said during a continuous string of 16- and 17-hour work days the 15-year-old operation has sold tens of thousands of flags Ñ triple the amount sold during Operation Desert Storm.
"We have thousands on order and normally, when they come in, they just last a couple of hours," he said.
The demand for American flags has been so great, Smith says, flag manufacturers are overwhelmed. They send out what they can make, and retailers have little warning about what they are getting.
"In the last two weeks, when we have a flag shipment, we have 30-40 people waiting to buy," Smith said. "On our Web site, we have 200-300 orders a day."
While the inventory is not limited to American flags, it has certainly been the thrust of the Flag Store's business since the attacks. Currently, the store's biggest sellers measure 2.5 by 4 feet and 3 by 5 feet Ñ the kind of flags hung from a pole attached to brackets on the porches of homes.
Business-size flags are harder to get and currently out of stock.
"We are getting so many e-mails and phone calls from all over," Smith said. "We are putting them on hold to serve Northern Nevada first."
Smith also said he has received a flood of calls from New York and New Jersey where he said limited flag supplies have resulted in high prices. Despite the local demand, Smith said his prices have not been adjusted. Flags for display outside the home start at $25 and go up depending on size and quality of materials.
"We've been here 15 years and we want to be here 15 more," Smith said. "We wouldn't change our prices now."
The Flag Store also installs flag poles. Although during a normal business cycle the store and sign shop employees would do flag installations, they have subcontracted the work with Yesco, a contractor with experience in installing in-ground flag poles.
As the self-proclaimed largest flag dealer in Nevada, the Flag Store has been running an inventory much lower than its normal $150,000. There are also flags from other states and countries around the world, as well as decorative and seasonal flags.
To keep up with the flow of customer traffic, Smith said family members have helped run the store. Shipment and inventory information is available on a recording at 355-0506.
The Flag Store is located at 155 Glendale Ave. and is open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or on the Web at www.eventflags.com.