- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2003

CHICAGO, March 28 (UPI) — American flags, red, white and blue decorations, and yellow ribbons have become part of the nation's landscape as people display patriotic symbols in a show of support for U.S. troops in Iraq.

Store managers around the country can't keep flags in stock with the briskest sales reported since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

"We had 72 flags a week ago and we're down to four," said John Tierney, manager of the Kmart on west Addison Street. The best-seller is a $9.99, full-size American flag. A display in the front of the store has flags, yellow ribbon pins, and T-shirts reading "U.S.A." and "God Bless America."

"Sales of flags, yellow ribbons and red, white and blue lapel pins are up about 15 percent from what we normally do," said Deb Folger, accounting manager of family-owed Folgers Flag & Decorating Inc. in Blue Island, Ill. The company also is selling more armed services flags and POW-MIA flags, Folger said.

Vickie Gobeli, stationary department manager of the Wal-Mart in Monroe, Wis., said people bought out her supply of flags the first weekend of fighting.

"This morning my hooks were wiped out," she told the Monroe Times Plus. "I can't get them (flags) in fast enough."

"We don't break down sales by item. The last time we did it was after 9-11," Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman Karen Burke told United Press International Friday. "I can tell you flag sales are up and that we will meet the needs of our customers."

The store manager for Alaska Flag & Flagpole Distributors in Anchorage said flag sales surged from $400 a day to $1,300 in a show of patriotism reminiscent of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Several Minnesota towns festooned their Main Streets with their Fourth of July bunting and flags.

Veterans groups in Lancaster, Ohio, planned to hand out 10,000 American flags Saturday in front of the Veterans Memorial and at other sites in the county.

"We generally give them (flags) out during the Independence Day celebration, but thought with the country at war it was a great way to show our support for the troops," Dave Smith, president of the Lancaster-Fairfield Fourth of July Committee told the Eagle-Gazette.

Other groups will distribute red, white and blue ribbons and yellow ribbons.

Yellow ribbons were in short supply in Uniontown, Pa., after the American Legion asked residents to tie a yellow ribbon around a tree in support of American forces in "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

"Everyone seems to want to buy yellow ribbon right now. We also have an Americana red, white and blue ribbon that's selling well. But I have to say that the majority of the customers who are looking for ribbon are looking for yellow," said a sales representative at Jo-An Fabrics and Crafts at Fayette Plaza.

Joe Joseph, the adjutant of American Legion Post 51, said the Yellow Ribbon Campaign had made yellow ribbon hard to find.

"We ordered a big shipment, however, from the Internet," Joseph told the Herald Standard. "I have a big shipment coming in soon so we should be able to make a good number of the pins and bows."

Legionnaires were checking with state police to see whether it was ok to put giant yellow ribbons on the front of school buses.

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