Building a successful business from the ground up is hard work, but spend an hour with Kerry McCoy, founder, owner and president of Arkansas Flag and Banner, and you will know that she has what it takes.
Photo used with permission of Arkansas Flagandbanner.com. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Benjamin Krain – 2/10/15
Kerry McCoy is a touch spunky, a touch crass and a touch energetic. With a whole lot of passion and a great business sense; McCoy has taken what began as a door-to-door sales business and built it into a multimillion-dollar company known around the country.
Arkansas Flag and Banner is not just a retailer of flags but is a full-service shop as well. They can create custom flags and banners and are also equipped to make repairs to your flags as needed. Arkansas Flag and Banner has some “big” customers like McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, and even Disney, yet they pride themselves on giving all customers five-star treatment. When you call Arkansas Flag and Banner, you will speak to a real person six days a week during business hours. When you purchase a flag, you will be contacted twice a year to ensure that your flag is in top-notch condition. If your flag needs repairs, they will arrange that for you. If the flag is beyond repair, they will properly retire the flag for you and provide you with a coupon toward the purchase of a new flag.
Margarita Estrada has been an Arkansas Flag and Banner employee for nearly 10 years. Margarita hand sews custom flags and banners and makes repairs to American flags.
One of the most beautiful things about Arkansas Flag and Banner is the building in which it is located. The historic Taborian Hall (Temple) was built in 1916 and not only contains the showroom, employee offices, the shipping and receiving department and the sewing room, but also has a rich history hidden within itself.
The Taborian Hall was home to the Negro Soldiers Club and sits on “The Line,” which was the boundary between Little Rock’s black and white societies. The building also housed a pharmacy and soda shop, doctors and lawyer’s offices, and the Dreamland Grill which later became known as the Dreamland Ballroom. The building cost more than $1 Million dollars to build in 1916. It was financed by the black community and constructed by Simeon Johnson, a local black contractor. Taborian Hall was one of the most prestigious buildings in Little Rock and was the pride and joy of the black community.
The building, built by the Knights and Daughters of Tabor, a philanthropic black fraternity that provided insurance for the black community and most notably, black widows and orphans. The fraternity would collect a small payment from the families and in return would provide widows and children with food and shelter in the event that the husband/father died. The current American welfare system was modeled after this effort.
Taborian Hall’s heyday was from the 1930s through the late 1960s when it housed three nightclubs – most notably the Dreamland Ballroom. The Dreamland Ballroom housed dances and drew notable performs such as B.B. King, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Redd Foxx, Ray Charles and Sammy Davis Jr.
In the 1970s, following desegregation, black businesses began to move off “The Line”. People began to take their business elsewhere and shop in less expensive stores around the city. Booming West Ninth Street began to bust; buildings were abandoned or fell into severe disrepair.
Used with permission of Arkansas FlagandBanner.com.
In 1991, Kerry McCoy fell in love with the exterior of the building and took a huge leap of faith by purchasing the dilapidated, abandoned building for a mere $20,000. She embarked on an $180,000 renovation project that enabled them to repair the mostly missing roof and make the first floor habitable.
Used with permission of Arkansas FlagandBanner.com.
As Arkansas Flag and Banner has grown, so too has the Taborian Hall. Booming business following 9/11 paved the way for the McCoys to begin renovating the second floor. They moved all of their offices to the second floor and opened the beautiful showroom on the first floor. The showroom is open to the public.
In 2009, a nonprofit group, Friends of Dreamland, was established to bring the Dreamland Ballroom back to all its glory. Restoration efforts continue, but the ballroom is available for private functions. Arkansas Flag and Banner hosts several events in the Ballroom each year to help with fundraising and to educate the public on this American treasure. The Dreamland Ballroom is one of very few original ballrooms in America.
Arkansas Flag and Banner Headquarters is open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 800 W 9th St, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201. The Dreamland Ballroom is available for private tours by appointment only. You can keep up with the Dreamland Ballroom progress via their Facebook page.
Arkansas Women Blogger’s Calendar Cultivator and memberJulie Kohl writes about her adventures with food, recipes, crafts and creativity on her blog Eggs and Herbs. As former Yankee who was “converted” to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you’ll-miss-it town in east central Arkansas. She raises chickens, horses, and English mastiffs and spends her summers off from teaching art growing an herb garden and crafting all kinds of delicious recipes.
I want to thank the NAACP and Julius for coming out and exercising their First Amendment rights, just like I am. 40 years ago, I started my business on $400 and have lived the American dream. Today I continue to live that dream by selling flags and other patriotic items. Due to this morning’s Supreme Court ruling, I feel sure the gay pride flag will take the forefront in our sales. Such is the flag business.
To say that I am supporting racism is incorrect. I have given back to my community and black history by restoring a 20th century historically significant African American building on 9th Street in Little Rock AR. At my expense, I have co-published a book with UALR (University of Arkansas at Little Rock) about its heritage, and through my efforts a 2 hour AETN documentary is soon to be released. Without me this piece of history would have been torn down 20 years ago.
Like all retailers I know not what is in the hearts of any of my customers when they buy from me. Are they going to burn the American flag or fly it.
Like everyone in America I am deeply disturbed by the South Carolina events. Let us focus on the bigger picture, race relations. Who taught this kid to hate and why did he get a gun.
At Arkansas’ Flag and Banner in downtown Little Rock, President Kerry McCoy said their best selling merchandise is red, white, and blue; even the Confederate merchandise. McCoy said the ones who buy Confederate merchandise range from historical buffs …
“I don’t sell the Confederate flag for any specific group; I just sell the flag,” said Kerry McCoy, owner and president of Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com. “This is America. Everybody has a right to be represented, whether you are a history buff or a nut.” McCoy said …
“Somebody in Rhode Island ordered in 50 Confederate (lapel) pins,” said Kerry McCoy, owner of Flag and Banner in Little Rock, Arkansas. The order came in on Monday, when Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina called for the removal of the Confederate flag …
Kerry McCoy, owner of Arkansas Flag and Banner in Little Rock, Ark., describes the demand for Confederate flag merchandise Tuesday, June 23, 2015. Major retailers are halting sales of the Confederate flag and related merchandise. (AP Photo/Danny …
… themselves from the controversial banner and national retailers pulled Confederate flags, manufacturers that produce the divisive symbol say sales are surging. “I don’t sell the Confederate flag for any specific group, I just sell the flag,” said Kerry McCoy, …
Van de Putte’s inventory also includes novelty flags and banners from the military and countries like North Korea. He estimates that nearly every flag in his store could be seen as objectionable by someone. Likewise, McCoysaid she frequently gets pressure …
Confederate flag themed stickers are displayed at Arkansas Flag and Banner in Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday. Major retailers including Amazon, Sears, … “I don’t sell the Confederate flag for any specific group, I just sell theflag,” said Kerry McCoy, owner and president of Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com. “This is America. Everybody has a right to be represented whether you are a history buff or a nut.” McCoy said her company expects to sell about 50 of the flags over the next week. That’s about half of what they typically …
“I don’t sell the Confederate flag for any specific group, I just sell the flag,” said Kerry McCoy, owner and president of Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com. … Van de Putte’s inventory also includes novelty flags and banners from the military and other countries.
The flag style is among the assortment of historical banners in stock, a category that includes the 13-star Betsy Ross flag and the “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden flag from the Revolutionary War era. The store also carried flagsfrom different countries, sports flags and military banners. “Our policy is to be absolutely … I just sell the flag,” said Kerry McCoy, owner and president of FlagandBanner.com. “This is America. Everybody has a right to be represented, whether you are a history buff or a nut.” Ms. McCoy said her …
“I don’t sell the Confederate flag for any specific group, I just sell the flag,” said Kerry McCoy, owner and president of Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com. “This is America. Everybody has a right to be represented whether you are a history buff or a nut.” McCoy said her company expects to sell about 50 of the flags over the next week. That’s about half of what they typically … Van de Putte’s inventory also includes novelty flags and banners from the military and countries like North Korea. He estimates that nearly every flag in …
I just sell the flag,” said Kerry McCoy, owner and president of Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com. “This is America. … Van de Putte’s inventory also includes novelty flags and banners from the military and countries like North Korea. He estimates that nearly every …
… members in South Carolina, manufacturers that produce the divisive symbol say that sales are now surging. “I don’t sell the Confederate flag for any specific group, I just sell the flag,” said Kerry McCoy, owner and president of Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com.
The alleged shooter in the attack, Dylann Roof (21) had posed for photographs with the secessionist banner. Mrs Clinton … Kerry McCoy, owner and president of Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com, told the Associated Press: “This is America. Everybody has a …
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 …
Online retailer eBay said it would no longer sell the rebel banner through its website, as did Sears and Etsy. Amazon.com followed suit after purchases of the flag rocketed by more than 3,600% in just 24 hours. Walmart led the way on Monday saying it would …
“I don’t sell the Confederate flag for any specific group, I just sell the flag,” Kerry McCoy, owner and president of Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com tells the AP’s Tom Murphy. “This is America. Everybody has a right to be represented whether you are a history buff …
At Arkansas’ Flag and Banner in downtown small Rock, President Kerry McCoy said their best selling merchandise is red, white, and blue; even the Confederate merchandise. Some Republican presidential candidates struggled to find a middle ground, …
Even if the Confederate flag still flies Wednesday when mourners file past the coffin of state Sen. Van de Putte’s inventory also includes novelty flags and banners from the military and countries like North Korea. Likewise, McCoy said she frequently gets …
Several major retailers ban sales of Confederate flag
Top retailers ban Confederate flag
By SAMANTHA MASUNAGA
A growing number of retailers are halting sales of the Confederate flag and related merchandise in reaction to its image as a symbol of racial hate, burnished by photos of the man accused of gunning down nine African Americans in a Charleston, S.C., church.
At least one manufacturer shared the retailers’ sentiment, deciding it would also halt production of the Confederate battle flag.
On Tuesday, Target Corp., EBay Inc. and other retailers followed the lead of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Sears Holding Corp. in saying they would stop selling the flag in the face of growing outrage over its celebration as a racist symbol.
Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man arrested in last week’s killings, embraced the flag as a symbol of his racist ideology as he posed with it in photos. He also boasted about his racist views online.
Saying they recognized the divisiveness of the flag, retailers started pulling Confederate merchandise from store shelves and online marketplaces to avoid alienating customers.
“We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer,” Wal-Mart spokesman Brian Nick said.
The announcements followed South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s call Monday to remove the Confederate flag from the state Capitol grounds.
“We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions when it comes to the merchandise we sell,” Nick said Tuesday. “Still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly. This is one of those instances.”
Sears Holding said it was removing Confederate flag merchandise from its Sears and Kmart online stores. The company said Confederate flag merchandise was not sold in bricks-and-mortar stores.
Online marketplace EBay said it would prohibit sales of Confederate flags and many items displaying the flag because “it has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism,” spokeswoman Johnna Hoff said.
“This decision is consistent with our long-standing policy that prohibits items that promote or glorify hatred, violence and racial intolerance,” she said.
Civil rights leaders called on Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon.com Inc., to follow the lead of Wal-Mart and Sears and stop sales of the Confederate flag.
“Amazon now has an opportunity to again prove it is a good corporate citizen and join with other major retailers, business leaders and elected officials that now call for an end to sales and displays of a symbol that stands for hate and bigotry,” said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable.
Amazon did not comment, but Tuesday afternoon many Confederate flags were listed on the site as unavailable for sale. The three best-selling items on its site over the last 24 hours had been Confederate flags, with sales of the most popular flag up 5,466%.
As major retailers hurried to ban the Confederate flag, some websites saw a bonanza in sales.
Kerry McCoy, owner of flagandbanner.com in Arkansas, said the site sold 50 lapel pins of the Confederate flag Monday and even more Tuesday. Normally, Confederate flag sales make up less than 1% of its business, McCoy said.
“Not everybody that uses the Confederate flag is doing it for hate,” she said. “Some of them have a family member that fought in that war. I’m not going to deny one sector of Americans the right to fly the flag of their choice.”
At least one flag manufacturer said it would stop making Confederate flags.
“Unfortunately sometimes it takes an event like this to kind of focus you on doing the right thing,” said Reggie VandenBosch, vice president of sales at Valley Forge Flag Co. in Wyomissing, Pa.
Companies including Target, online handmade marketplace Etsy and mall chain Spencer Gifts also said they would ban sales of Confederate flag merchandise.
Automaker BMW, one of South Carolina’s largest employers, said Tuesday it “applauds the courage” of Haley in calling for the Confederate flag to be removed from the Capitol grounds.
Her stand was an about-face from a year ago, when Haley, a Republican, defended the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds. She said then that banning the flag was a “sensitive issue.”
“What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state,” Haley said at the time. “I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”
Times staff writer Michael Muskal contributed to this report.
While a growing number of major retailers rushed Tuesday to halt sales of the Confederate flag after the recent shooting deaths of nine black church members in South Carolina, at least one local shop owner is continuing to carry the banner.
The Flag Lady’s Flag Store, which has been selling the flag since it opened in the ’80s, will continue to sell the flag because the store has “always categorized it as an historic flag,” said Lori Leavitt Watson, vice president of the business and daughter of founder Mary Leavitt.
“We have a whole section on historical flags,” Watson said. “But it’s never been one of your bigger sellers, even among historical flags, and that continues to be true today.”
A wave of national retailers started pulling Confederate flags after Wal-Mart said that it would remove all Confederate-themed items from its store shelves and website after the South Carolina-shooting suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, appeared in photos holding the flag.
Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Sears, Spencer Gifts and Target were among those removing Confederate flag merchandise.
The red-white-and-blue Confederate battle flag represents racism to many and Southern heritage to others. The debate over its place exploded after the church attack.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said on Monday that the flag should be removed from the Statehouse grounds. On Tuesday, South Carolina lawmakers agreed to discuss removing the flag.
Also on Tuesday:
• Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe moved to banish the Confederate flag from one of that state’s license plates.
• In Mississippi, state House Speaker Philip Gunn called for the Confederate emblem to be removed from that state’s flag.
• In Tennessee, both Democrats and Republicans called for the removal of a bust of Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from an alcove outside the state Senate’s chambers.
• NASCAR, the motorsports series with strong Southern roots, issued a statement saying that it will “continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate Flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity.” In 2012, NASCAR and track officials canceled plans to have pro golfer Bubba Watson drive the car from the television series The Dukes of Hazzard at Phoenix International Raceway, citing concerns about the Confederate flag on the roof of the “General Lee” automobile.
But even as organizations distanced themselves from the controversial banner and national retailers pulled Confederate flags, manufacturers that produce the divisive symbol say sales are surging.
“I don’t sell the Confederate flag for any specific group, I just sell the flag,” said Kerry McCoy, owner and president of Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com. “This is America. Everybody has a right to be represented whether you are a history buff or a nut.”
Locally, the Flag Lady’s store has sold four Confederate flags this year, two in the store and two online.
“I’ve been curious about it, so I went back in our records to 2010, and we’ve sold anywhere from four to seven (Confederate) flags a year,” Watson said.
The big seller this year at the Flag Lady’s store has been the Stars and Stripes.
“American flag sales are really up,” Watson said. “I don’t know if it’s all the controversy, but our sales numbers are way up. We surpassed American flag sales numbers from June 2014 on June 20. It’s been interesting. We’re not sure what’s going on.”
While the Confederate flag represents a small slice of their business, those that produce them say they have no plans to stop.
Pete Van de Putte said sales of Confederate flags are surging at his Dixie Flag Manufacturing in San Antonio, Texas. He said he has sold more flags in the past couple of days than he typically would have sold over a couple of months.
“Any time there is a controversy about any flag, we sell more flags,” he said. “It’s not like selling tires or washing machines.
“When people come in here, they’re buying their national pride, their ethnic origin … so people are naturally passionate about the product.”
Columbus-based discount and closeout retailer Big Lots “does not carry any merchandise promoting the Confederate flag, nor will we,” a spokesman said.
Sales of Confederate flag T-shirts have been nonexistent locally, said Zach Traxler, owner of Traxler Custom Printing.
“We’ve never had a request for Confederate flag shirts here in Ohio,” Traxler said. “Even with our Southern state client base — in North Carolina and South Carolina. Just the ‘Don’t tread on me’ (T-shirts).”
Information from the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times was included in this story.