Attack Aftermath: Marketers Ride Wave of Patriotism

In addition to demand for safety and military products, the terrorist attacks have brought out patriotism — and fueled demand for American-themed merchandise.

At Old Saybrook, CT-based rock ‘n’ roll and nostalgia products cataloger Old Glory Distributing, sales of U.S. flags “have jumped considerably,” says marketing director Stephen Schofield. “In the past two years, we sold a total of seven U.S. flags through the catalog, but in the week after Sept. 11, we sold 34.” And in its stores in Old Saybrook and Middletown, CT, Old Glory sold hundreds of U.S. flags, “completely cleaning out our shelves,” Schofield says.

Besides flags, sales of T-shirts — an Old Glory staple — surged 30%-35%, which Schofield attributes in part to company’s patriotic moniker. For example, all 210 available units of a T-shirt emblazoned with a quotation from John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address sold out within a week after the attacks.

Flags and other patriotic products are “normally not a big portion of our business,” Schofield says, “but I know that people found us on the Web because of our name.”

Reedsburg, WI-based Liberty Flags & Specialty Co. hasn’t seen such a high demand for American-related flags, pins, and flag kits since the Gulf War, says president David Gonzalez. In the weeks right after Sept. 11, sales increased 1,000%. “There’s a wave of patriotism going on in the country right now,” Gonzalez says. “And I hope it lasts.”

Liberty, which mails the World Class Flags and World Class Christmas Displays catalogs, drops 1 million books annually. “Sales before the 11th were good, and we would have been up 11%-12% at end of the year,” says Gonzalez, who now expects company sales to exceed projections for the year by 50%. Liberty Flags has designed its own flag and banner based on the Sept. 11 attacks and the Twin Towers, which it will release in time for the holidays.

Even Orlando, FL-based cigar cataloger Corona Cigar Co. is seeing an uptick of sorts in sales of its Badge of Honor cigars, says founder/president Jeff Borysiewicz. While overall company sales fell initially after the attacks, retail and wholesale sales for the patriotic product are up 100%. The cigars, which launched in July, were originally meant for the military, as each box and cigar band bear the name of a particular military branch. But now, consumers are interested in the cigars as well, Borysiewicz says.

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