Flag Shop flies again in downtown Victoria

Patriots of all stripes, sailors, history buffs and vexillophiles were celebrating Friday as the flags starting flying again on Fort Street.

Two years after shutting its doors, the Flag Shop returned to the same downtown spot it called home since 1989, but this time with new owners and a global inventory of national flags, hard-to-find ensigns and just about anything you want to put on fabric and flap in a breeze.

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“We just saw it as a good opportunity ... it’s always been a popular retail store and we are a nautical and tourist town,” said Paul Servos, who along with his partner, Maggie Rennick, opened the store, fittingly, on little-known National Flag Day.

Mayor Dean Fortin was on hand to hoist Canada’s colours on the 47th anniversary of the maple leaf flag. A handful of business people, nautical buffs and those vexillophiles — a term for people who admire and collect flags — were on hand to mark the occasion.

“I just love flags and their history,” said former city councillor Bea Holland, who bought a book on flags for a relative Friday.

The Flag Shop in Victoria had been a powerhouse for the Vancouver-based franchiser, Textile Image Inc., which has 12 locations coast to coast. Jamie and Chantal Webb had owned the business for 14 years before selling it in 2009 to Jill and Joan Krop. A legal flap with the parent company followed and the Krops went out on their own, but closed shortly after.

The new store marks the 13th franchise for Textile Image, which was happy to bring Victoria back into the fold.

“From a retail perspective, Victoria and Ottawa have always been the best [in the chain],” said president Susan Braverman. “It’s a sailing city. You have lots of history here. Lots of nationalities. Lots of tourists. It’s great to be back in Victoria.”

Servos, who served as the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority’s first CEO but has run a consulting business the last two years, said the shop is growing its inventory and will offer custom services for flags, banners and other ensigns. A sewing room is set up in the rear of the shop to handle just about any special request, he said.

The Maple Leaf remains the bestseller in the Flag Shop chain. Webb said that was true for Victoria, followed by the provincial flags, the U.S. stars and bars and the Union Jack.

Another popular flag was the Colony of Vancouver Island, featuring the Union Jack on a dark-blue background and highlighting a beaver, pine cone and Neptune’s trident wrapped in snakes. It was issued in the 1840s, said Webb, and one of several “defaced blue ensigns” issued by British colonies.

The Flag shop is at 822 Fort St. Call 250-383-3524.

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