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Manufacturers Follow Winds of Change in Confederate Flag Debate

As retailers halt sales of products bearing the Confederate flag after last week's mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, the Flag Manufacturers Association of America has suggested that its members might stop producing the flags entirely. One manufacturer has already dropped the item from its product line.

In the wake of the racially motivated killings of nine black churchgoers in Charleston South Carolina, last week, the political pressure to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds spread rapidly to the retail sector—and flag manufacturers have begun assessing the implications for their business.

On Monday, Walmart announced that it would no longer sell the flags or related products; Sears, eBay, and Amazon soon followed suit. And on Tuesday, Reggie VandenBosch, president and chairman of the Flag Manufacturers Association of America, said FMAA was beginning to consider the question of whether the flag should be produced at all by its 38 member companies.

There’s always been discomfort with it, and this tragedy is one of those sea change moments.

“We don’t want to cause someone continued pain because [of] what [the Confederate flag] represents,” VandenBosch told CNN Money. “We’ll definitely spend time as an industry group discussing that.”

Typically, the flags have not been big sellers. “It’s not something regularly produced,” VandenBosch told USA Today. “It’s not even a tenth of a percent of the overall business.” But many of the stores that banned the flags did so after a surge in sales, according to a Yahoo Finance report.

Valley Forge Flag Company, where VandenBosch is a vice president, announced Tuesday that it will stop manufacturing the flags entirely.  “We have decided we’re not going to be participating in producing the Confederate battle flag anymore,” VandenBosch told Yahoo Finance. “There’s always been discomfort with it, and this tragedy is one of those sea change moments.”

Still Made in China?

While FMAA’s U.S.-based members could get out of the Confederate flag business, Chinese companies may continue. The flags haven’t traditionally been big sellers for them, and the companies in China that do sell them have suggested that they will keep producing them, the International Business Times reported.

“I don’t think people in the U.S. will stop using this flag altogether,” Alex Chen, sales manager at Shanghai-based Totem Flags, told the publication. “It’s a tradition. If they want to change something, I think maybe they’ll change the design of the flag a little. But that wouldn’t be a big problem for us—we always make to order, so we could redo the design.”

(iStock/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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