- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Usually this time of year, Tony Spinelli would be focused on making banners for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, his company's bread-and-butter account.
Sept. 11 changed that. Mr. Spinelli, who owns A Broadway Banner & Flag Co. in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has spent countless hours on the phone and Internet since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon hunting down stocks of U.S. flags for his distribution unit, SaratogaFlag.com.
"When that plane hit that building, I was on the phone for the rest of the day, and on the Net, buying flags," said Mr. Spinelli, whose company also makes Colonial flags for history re-enactor groups. "I spent about $20,000 that day, buying up stock wherever I could find it."
Since the attacks, the U.S. flag is everywhere: in front of homes, flown on cars, popping up in fashion, waving as a backdrop in hundreds of images on TV.
The American public's appetite to display the Stars and Stripes appears unwavering. Last week, online auctioneer EBay had 19 Web pages of U.S. flags for sale.
Distributors like Mr. Spinelli are working overtime and paying premiums to stay stocked. Mr. Spinelli is paying wholesale prices of $28 to $34 a flag up from the typical $12 to $15 and selling them over the phone and online at minor markups. He often tells customers that if they are willing to wait, the price could drop.
This time of year would normally see most flag manufacturers building up stock for next year, according to David Martucci, president of the North American Vexillological Association, a group that researches flags and their use in cultures.
Manufacturers like Annin & Co., of Roseland, N.J., have shifted into high gear to meet demands. At its plant in Verona, N.J., where international, state and custom flags are normally made, the U.S. flag has been added to the production line. Until last month, only Annin plants in Virginia and Pennsylvania produced Old Glory.
Annin is the world's largest flag maker, manufacturing them for, among other clients, the United Nations. Its flags draped the casket and funeral train of Abraham Lincoln.
Randy Beard, the company's vice president of corporate sales, said production of 3-by-5-foot flags the ones many people are flying in front of their homes has gone from 30,000 each week to 100,000. The company has increased staff at some plants and added production shifts at others to keep pace.
Production at CF Flag Co., of Huntsville, Ala., the nation's second-oldest manufacturer, has at least quadrupled, said spokesman David Krieger Sr. CF Flags has been calling back employees normally idled this time of year by slower business and production of holiday banners. The company also has suspended Internet orders.
Mr. Martucci said the current display of nationalism is unprecedented.
"What happened during the Gulf war pales compared to this," he said. "They sold out of the next year and a half of flags in the week following the events in New York and Washington.
"Everyone perceives the attacks as having happened to American symbols," he said. "It's no surprise that Americans turned to their most cherished symbol to respond."

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