That American flag you’re buying in Minnesota for this July 4th will be more than 13 stripes and 50 stars. It will be made in the U.S.A.
Retailers say they haven’t noticed a big difference in sales since a state law took effect this year requiring that all U.S. flags sold in Minnesota be American-made.
“We’ve only sold American-made flags for years, and we’ve never had problems with sales,” said American Flagpole & Flag owner Matt Knowlan. “The flag is the symbol of the United States, and it’s how Americans show pride.”
But not everybody is a fan of the new rules.
Imad Ardah, a co-owner of Alamo Flags in the Mall of America, said he understands the motivation for the law but thinks it means fewer people will be flying American flags.
“Too many people cannot afford the flags made in the U.S.A.,” Ardah said. “One of my American flags that costs $39 used to cost just $19. That’s double the price!”
Ardah, a U.S. citizen who emigrated from Jordan in 1991, said the foreign-made flags and the American-made ones are of nearly the same quality.
Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, said he thought it was “ludicrous” and “un-American” to have U.S. flags made abroad, in countries such as China. Anzelc — who co-sponsored the measure, which would hit violators with a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail — said he believes people would gladly pay the extra cost if it puts money in the pockets of their neighbors.
“Real patriotism also includes valuing the work of American workers,” Anzelc said.
“I think that’s just as patriotic as displaying the flag.”
According to Ardah, his store hasn’t seen a big drop in the sale of American flags — his most popular items — and he still sells a few hundred per month. He said that before he switched to American-made flags, about 10 percent of his customers refused to buy the flags because they were imported.
“For a lot of people, it’s very meaningful to have their flags made in the U.S.A.,” Ardah said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. But give them a choice.”
Lidya Johnson, a 39-year-old Bloomington native stocking up for Independence Day, said the higher prices were going to hamper her July 4th celebration.
“I’m going to have to buy smaller flags, even though I’m spending the same amount,” she said. “The government has no business telling me what I can and can’t buy.”
Last year, Arizona required its schools and public colleges to put an American-made flag in every classroom from junior high on up. Tennessee requires all U.S. flags bought via state contract to be made domestically, and similar legislation has been considered in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
In 2006, $5.3 million worth of U.S. flags were imported in the United States, nearly all of them from China.
For Ray Gummer, a projects manager at Washburn-McReavy Funeral Chapels, where a flag was made has a huge meaning for his clients, many of whom are veterans.
“When we do floral displays, we only use American-made because it’s what they fought for,” Gummer said. “I don’t really care where the flags from other countries are made, but American flags should be American-made.”
Rodrigo Zamith • 612-673-4895