Confederate flag yanked by Victoria retailers

The Confederate battle flag has been pulled from store displays at the Flag Shop’s Victoria location and it won’t be back.

The controversial flag, under heavy criticism in the U.S. as a symbol of racism following deadly shootings at a South Carolina church last week, was pulled by local franchisee Paul Servos ahead of the Flag Shop’s company-wide decision Tuesday to permanently halt sales of the flag.

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“After much consideration, we are halting the sale of Confederate battle flags permanently,” Flag Shop president Susan Braverman wrote in a blog post Tuesday afternoon, having earlier noted the 13 Canadian stores would halt sales “until further notice.”

Servos said the flag has not been a big seller.

“We have very few sales of those. The sales are generally not to people using them for racial purposes. It’s more like young people with a Dukes of Hazzard philosophy,” he said. “[To] the people who have bought it over the last couple of years, it’s been more the symbol of the redneck.”

The alleged Charleston, South Carolina shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, adopted the Confederate flag as a symbol of racial hatred, which has resulted in increased pressure to have it removed from the grounds of that state’s legislature.

It also resulted in major retailers getting out of the Confederate flag business.

Walmart started a wave of merchandise bans Monday when it said it would remove all Confederate-themed items from its store shelves and website after the shooting suspect appeared in photos holding the flag. Walmart said its goal is to not offend anyone with the products it offers.

Since then Amazon, Sears, eBay, Etsy and Target said they would remove Confederate flag merchandise from their websites. Sears noted no Confederate flag merchandise is sold at Sears or Kmart stores.

Online marketplace eBay followed suit banning the sale of Confederate flags and similarly themed merchandise on its site because it has become a symbol of “divisiveness and racism.”

EBay said it began notifying sellers of its decision and started removing items that contain the Confederate flag Tuesday.

Late Tuesday afternoon a search of eBay.ca for “Confederate flag” brought up more than 10,000 items including flags, pins, bumper stickers and licence plates. The same search on eBay.com brought up 261 items.

Motorsports series NASCAR also waded into the flag flap by backing South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s call to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds.

“As our industry works collectively to ensure that all fans are welcome at our races, NASCAR will continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity,” it said.

The red, white, and blue stars-and-bars of the Confederate battle flag represent racism to many, and southern heritage to others.

Servos, who sells flags and manufactures custom-textiles like table cloths, banners and tent canopies at his Fort Street store, said it’s unfortunate some people “have adopted a historical flag as an inappropriate symbol of racism.”

“There are appropriate uses for every historical flag,” he said.

Even as retailers pull the flags, manufacturers that produce the divisive symbol say that sales are surging. Kerry McCoy of FlagandBanner.com, expects to sell 50 of the flags this week. That’s about half of what they typically sell in a year.

— With CP and AP

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