Just ahead of July 4th, it’s a busy time for Robert Watson, co-owner with his wife Karen of a straightforwardly-named American flag store in Lisbon, The American Flag Store. “Business is really good,” he says.
And it has been since he opened his doors three years ago, after giving up a career as an EMT. “I’ve always had an interest in flags. My family has a long tradition in the military.”
Whatever you need flag-wise, he’s got it — big flags, small flags, car flags, windsock flags, bumper sticker flags, fan flags, stick flags and, of course, all the hardware to fly them. Plus, there are presentation sets and a heritage series of earlier American flags. “Everything is made in the U.S.A., at Valley Forge, in fact,” he says.
Watson feels so passionately about the flag he wants every American to fly it every day as a symbol of strength and pride. To help make that happen, he set up a program this past year to give away (except for shipping and handling) 3' x 5' flags to the first 1,000 people who asked. They asked; he gave. The giveaway has ended.
Old glory isn’t the only flag in demand these days. Since January Watson has seen a marked increase in sales of Don’t Tread On Me flags, the one with the coiled snake on it.
“I can’t keep them in stock,” he says. “Demand really picked up after the presidential election.”
Also in stock at the flag store are state flags, world flags, military flags, nautical flags, message flags, sports flags, religious and garden flags.
You can buy online (www.theamericanflagstore.com) if you can’t get to Lisbon. The Web site also has the protocol for treatment of the flag (e.g., the flag should be lifted briskly and lowered cautiously, the flag may be flown 24 hours a day if illuminated properly). Watson says, “I think of the flag as a living thing, something that represents our country. It should be treated with respect.”
This article appears in the October 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine