- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

American flags and gas masks have been flying off store shelves in the Washington area as a result of Tuesday's terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center's twin towers and left a gaping hole in the Pentagon.
Full Metal Jacket, an Army surplus store in Alexandria, has sold 200 gas masks in the past two days.
"They take it home hoping they never have to use it," said owner Mark Richards, who sold $1,400 worth of equipment, including a chemical protection suit, boots, gloves and a mask, to one customer.
Mr. Richards said he ordered 600 gas masks and 400 replacement filters on Tuesday expecting a rush of business over the next couple of days.
"I'm here in business to make a profit," he said. "I stock large quantities of things in anticipation of events like this."
The majority of Full Metal Jacket's sales this week were gas masks ranging from $28 to more than $80. Customers are buying, on average, $100 to $200 worth of merchandise, Mr. Richards said.
Mr. Richards' gun shop, Potomac Arms, has had an increase in ammunition sales since Tuesday.
Valley Gun of Baltimore has sold some guns this week, but owner Sanford Abrams said he wasn't sure if their intended use was for home protection due to Tuesday's attacks or for hunting purposes, since this is the middle of hunting season.
Jeffrey Gildenhorn bought stars-and-stripes scarves and bandannas for all his wait staff to wear at American City Diner on Connecticut Avenue but found U.S. flags sold out at Ranger Surplus in Bethesda.
Sales clerk Orion Cottrell said they had no U.S. flags of any type left by 1 p.m. Wednesday but hoped to get a shipment by noon today.
Souvenir shops in the District were busy placing orders of flags — in all shapes and sizes — as a result of heavy demand from patrons.
Best of D.C., located at Union Station, was waiting on a new shipment of flags yesterday. The store, which sells Washington, D.C., paraphernalia, sold out of the patriotic symbols earlier in the day.
"Everyone keeps asking for the American flags," said Monica Estevez, an employee at Best of D.C. "People are asking for New York stuff, too."
By mid-afternoon, the store had only one Pentagon postcard left.
Destination D.C., a sister store located at Union Station, sold 100 mini-flags at 25 cents each to a customer yesterday. On Wednesday, the store also sold about 20 T-shirts with the American flag on the front.
Tuesday's events have brought more business to the shop than usual. This is the store's slow time of year because the tourist season is over, said Miriam Aquino, store manager.
Alamo Flag, a tiny corner shop on the street level of Union Station, had swarms of patriotic patrons searching for different sizes of flags all day yesterday. The constant flow of customers were buying up dozens of flags ranging from $3.99 to $79.
Telephones at U.S. flag manufacturers rang busy all afternoon, and many turned to Canada for U.S. flags.
"We can't even get through to our sister company in Salt Lake City," said Arlene Flock, president of Flagworks Inc. in Calgary, Alberta. "I have a fax here saying, 'we'll take 100,000 of whatever [U.S. flags] you have'" from Home Shopping Market, and another order for 150,000 from another U.S. company.
Ms. Flock said her Calgary retail outlet is selling a U.S. flag about every five minutes to Canadians who want to show their support.
D.C. street vendors didn't have as much luck with business yesterday, considering not too many tourists were walking by their stands — full of generic T-shirts that say "U.S.A.," "America" or "Washington, D.C."
Tim Lemke and Margie Hyslop contributed to this report.


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