I am so proud of the product I sell, the American flag. Since its inception, it has been a source of comfort for so many. You see it flown proudly and defiantly at almost all natural and man-made disasters. Looking at the destructive pictures of the Oklahoma tornado, and seeing the helpful men and women hoist a flag in solidarity brings tears to my eyes, even still after 39 years of selling the US flag.
Listening to Jessica Buchanan, on 60 minutes, recount her rescue from Somalia by Seal Team 6 and having them gently place her in a helicopter and hand her a tri-folded American flag to hug and comfort her on the way back to the states, gave me chills.
Talking to my priest, who never really knew his father, but upon hearing of his death was given his father’s casket flag, a war hero, reminds me how important the US flag is to us all.Flag and Banner
There have been a number of news organizations talking about the Made in America movement. More retailers are starting to offer more products Made in U.S.A. — and even the big guns like Walmart have jumped on the bandwagon due to customer requests.
News reports have also stated that more American’s are looking for the Made in U.S.A. label or wording on products than in the past.
At FlagandBanner.com we did an experiment a few months ago we’d like to share. Just to test if one of our larger product lines could be manufactured in China for less than what can be manufactured in the United States, we did a test run. The results surprised some of our staff while others were glad to see they were right.
We asked for a supplier in China to produce 100 items. It took weeks for communication, manufacture and shipment. When we received the products we were not impressed. The quality was poor compared to our American made product of the same type. They also had several problems that had to be corrected in our own manufacturing facility. While the Chinese made products on price point alone were significantly cheaper than the American made, the cost of shipping and wait time as well as having to rework all 100 products in house made them more costly than their American counterparts. If the experiment had worked, we could have saved around .90 cents each but in the end we spent upwards of $2 more for a lesser quality product.
We were surprised by the results but in the end it turned out to be a good surprise. What we were already selling was the better deal in the long run. It cemented our belief more than ever in the American made philosophy and gave us a very nice anecdote to use in favor of American Made products.
One of the biggest things we renewed our faith in was just because a cheaper price may seem a better deal — sometimes it just isn’t.Flag and Banner
It is the beginning of Lent, one of my favorite annual events. No matter your religion or thoughts on religion, it is fun and challenging to try and better yourself for 40 days and nights.
Like sports, you can talk about Lent with almost anybody. At FlagandBanner.com we talk to people all over the country and often find ourselves in conversations about sports. For instance, you can be in Arkansas and bring up the Super Bowl with someone from Wisconsin and boom you have made a friend. Lent is similar; not everyone participates, but almost everyone knows about it and has a story or opinion.
This year I am giving up coffee. I have needed to for a long time and Lent was the catalyst to make it happen. My hearts says, “I’ll miss you old friend,” but my stomach says, “Thank you, at last!” I am sure all of my employees will be happy, too. A less stressed boss is a better boss.
Flag and Banner
Need sports flags and banners visit: http://www.flagandbanner.com/flags/sports-flags.asp
According to Webster Dictionary there are two words tied for “Word of the Year”…Socialism and Capitalism. The third word, and my personal favorite, is Malarkey. Not surprising really, since 2012 was an election year.
Socialism: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
Capitalism: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market
Malarkey: insincere or foolish talk
If I were to choose the “word of the year” I would choose Posturing, for obvious reasons.
Posturing: Taking a position on an issue strictly because it is politically advantageous to do so
At FlagandBanner.com we sell lots of political and some not so politically-correct products. After all it is America and everyone has the right to representation. In past years one political party would stand out in America’s buying cycle, but in 2012 there was no such “Product of the Year”. All political partys seem to be divided equally.Flag and Banner
On the morning of January 2, 2013 I called my local banker, Al Hodge, at Arkansas Capital, to discuss the refinancing of my downtown real estate. He and I had been talking, for months, about using the equity to help Arkansas Flag and Banner get through this recession. That is when he told me the bad news, “The SBA 504 refinancing loan was eliminated as part of the “Fiscal Cliff” negotiations”. What? Why? It helps businesses. It is a loan not a grant!
I felt angry and helpless. Then decided to make a difference and write a letter to every Senator and Representative. My children and I set up an assembly line and for two and a half days we signed, stuffed, licked, and stamped 550 letters. In addition, we hand wrote a short note on every envelope and letter to try and get their attention. Read our letter here.
It was an enlightening process for our whole family. I learned that not just anybody can write to Washington because it is expensive and labor intensive. It cost $500 in stamps and envelopes, you need access to a commercial printer, and it is labor intensive (I knew I had kids for some reason). I will continue to learn as I watch for what kind of results that follow in the next few weeks. I will repost when I find out.Flag and Banner
Remember when President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what can you do for your country”? Maybe it is time we revisited that sentiment. What if every American citizen that could work, did? It would reduce our deficit and increase our tax base. Citizens could have a direct impact on healing our country.
It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat; many of my smart, educated, able body friends are taking government hand-outs. And when asked why, the say “Everybody else is, so I deserve it too.” Almost everybody I know is getting money from the government; Social Security, disability, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, or school grants.
We don’t have an economic problem as much as we have a work ethic problem. Some of my friends are turning down $40k a year jobs because they want $60k a year. Some are living on unemployment because they want to enjoy some time off. Some of my disabled friends aren’t really unable to work but are handicapped enough to claim disability. I know they think they are being clever but really who are they hurting?
Statistics show that people who don’t work have low self-worth, are less happy and are generally in poorer health. In addition, when an unemployed person tries to get back in the job market they find it harder to find a job. Employers like to hire working people.
It seems the hardest working people in America are not the natural born citizens. So what is wrong with us? Why when given the opportunity are humans so self-destructive? Everybody knows a productive life is a better life, so why act otherwise?
Come on Americans; do your part….get a job, any job. You never know where it will lead you. I didn’t plan on selling flags for a living, but it was the only job I could find and look at me now!Flag and Banner
This has been a particularly hard year for Razorback fans. I haven’t agreed with many of Jeff Long’s decisions as athletic director, starting with NOT hiring Gus Malzahn back in 2008. But when Bobby Petrino turned out to be one of the best Razorback football coaches of my life time, I thought okay, Long may know what he’s doing. All too soon, my suspicions that Jeff Long had poor decision making skills came to fruition. First he fired Patrino for his off duty indiscretions, next he cried on national TV, and then he hired John Smith to coach our Heisman trophy quarterback, Tyler Wilson. If I was Tyler’s mother, I would have yanked my son out of that school. Now, he has hired the Wisconsin defensive coach Bret Bielema. What is wrong with Jeff Long! Hiring Bielema is like hiring Ken Hatfield or Houston Nutt again. Bielema can’t score in the RED ZONE. Jeeeeezzzz
Lest we remember, athletic director, Frank Broyles, was no walk in the park either. He too always had a lot of controversy swirling around him, but he’s turned out to be an Arkansas icon. One of my favorite events of the year is the Frank Broyles Award. Long-time friend, local celeb, and founder David Bazzel, has started a legacy for himself and our state with his annual assistant coach award. For 15 years Rotary Club 99, which I am a member, has been the main sponsor. For three years, I have had the privilege to usher at this great event. I met a lot of the football coaches I watch on TV every weekend. This year the Frank Broyles Award went to a good catholic boy, Bob Diaco of Notre Dame. A list of impressive assistant coaches have been given this prestigious award, Gus Malzahn won it last year. You can read more at the official Broyles Award Website.
Maybe one day, I will usher at an award ceremony for Jeff Long and hear the good things he has done for Arkansas. But right now, Arkansas Flag and Banner’s sale of Razorback gift items is nothing to brag about. I wonder if Jeff Long thinks about the businesses that support the Razorbacks? Or how his decisions affect the economy of not just the U of A but of our whole state? I vote to upgrade ASU to 7A status, so retailers like Flagandbanner.com can have another school to support while Jeff Long flounders. Maybe he will find his footing or get fired.Flag and Banner
ABC News recently did a story saying, “Economists say that if each American spends $64 on U.S. made items this h0liday season, they’d create 200,000 jobs”. Wow, is it really that easy? No, because even if you try, it is hard to find anything made in America. In the 1960s, nine out of 10 holiday gifts that Americans bought were made in the U.S. But these days, more than half of what Americans purchase for the holidays is made overseas. So with U.S. shoppers expected to spend more than $700 this holiday season – and the average shopper having already forked over about $423 on Black Friday weekend – “ABC World News” took to the streets of New York City recently as it kicked off the return of its “Made in America Christmas.”
Kim Hoffman of the Poconos let ABC News peek inside her bags outside of FAO Schwartz.
“Oh, I hope it’s American,” she said of the items she’d just purchased.
But the teddy bear inside bore a “Made in China” label. In fact, according to the U.S. census, Americans spent $2.5 billion on Christmas toys made in China last year.
Marianella and Denise Sorita traveled from Mexico to buy U.S. products but found Chinese tags inside two shopping bags.
These were just random shoppers who had no idea where what they purchased was made.
When AFB goes to market, we look far and wide for American Made products. Of course, all our US flags and US flag home kits are made on our shores but we managed to find a few more….toys, Zippo Lighters, patriotic clothing made just “next door” in Oklahoma… So be a patriot this Christmas in more ways than one, by shopping FLagandBanner.com!Flag and Banner
The month of October is busy with football, Breast Cancer, Columbus Day, Halloween, and pre-planning for our fundraiser “Dancing Into Dreamland”. For those that don’t know where the sticks and bricks of AFB are, it is in a 1916, historically significant, neo-classical style, building, in downtown Little Rock, known as the Taborian Hall.
I first fell in love with the Taborian Hall from its outside appearance, a stately, three story, red brick building, standing alone on I-630, abandoned, with a huge hole in the roof that let in the sun and rain. I always envisioned, my company, Arkansas Flag and Banner, housed in a building of such grandeur.
After driving by this vacant building many times, I finally got up the courage to come inside. Stepping over debris and skirting the homeless people, I worked my way to the third floor and… it was beyond love at first sight. Because the roof was missing, birds were flying around and the sun was illuminating. Staring across the open hole in the floor, to the Dreamland stage and box seats, I had a feeling that was indescribable, a kind of euphoria. It could have been because I was pregnant, with my third child, and my nesting instincts were heightened, or it could have been past performers speaking to my heart from the grave, but whatever it was, it sent me on a chain reaction that I have never regretted.
It took about a year to secure financing, shore up the building and renovate the first floor. In 1992, we had our ribbon cutting ceremony and moved in. About 1998 we borrowed more money to renovate the second floor and expand AFB, accordingly. 10 years went by and it was time to renovate the third floor, the biggest and the best floor of all, The Dreamland Ballroom. No matter how I scrubbed the business plan it just wouldn’t add up. The most minimal restoration for Dreamland Ballroom was 1 million dollars. There is not an event center on the planet that can make enough profit to pay back a million dollar note. My choices became 1.) Do nothing, 2.) Break-up the ballroom and rent it to a chain restaurant, or apartment developer, or 3.) Start a non-profit to try and fund its restoration. Knowing absolutely nothing about non-profits, that is what I decided to do.
I called like-minded friends and acquaintance that love old buildings and started a board, applied for non-profit status, and we named ourselves Friends of Dreamland (FOD). That was 3 years ago.
I am awed by all we have accomplished. I have to confess, I was naïve at how much work and time it would take. And I didn’t realize that because I am the landlord of the building I cannot serve on the board, all I can be is a super volunteer and the biggest donor. FOD pays no rent, and runs all its office expenses like desk, telephone, computers, software, printing, postage, repairs, utilities and other misc expenses through AFB. Sometimes, my employees don’t know if they are working for AFB or FOD. Unknowingly, the business model of a for-profit businesses doing non-profit work has a name, it is called a “B” Corporation. Even though AFB has not legally made the jump from S corp to B corp, it is nice to know we are still progressive in our business models and thoughts. If there is one thing AFB has always been good at…it is being on the bleeding edge.
I want to thank all the people who have supported the Dream: our donors, our board, my friends, my employees, my husband, my children, my bankers, and all the volunteers. Our current goals are an elevator, for the handicapped, and air conditioning so we can display and preserve our artifacts. Follow our progress on facebook or sign up for our DreamMails via email, we promise not to over fill your inbox.Flag and Banner
If you know me now, you’ll find this next confession hard to believe. Like so many kids in middle and high school, I felt like a fish out of water. Too thin, too flat, too tall, too loud, too dumb, too hyper and too self-conscious. My confidence was so low, that just knowing I had to take a speech class – in order to graduate high school – caused me to start fretting in the 10th grade. I was one of the 95 percent of people that would rather die than make a speech.
I guess you could say I was lucky that my ambition was stronger than my fear. I did all kinds of things in my early career that kept me awake at night. One such task was TV interviews. I may have been scared but I was not stupid, I knew the power of TV. So if any reporters wanted to come do a news story on flags, I was always available. Eventually, I became comfortable with TV, radio and newspaper interviews.
That’s why, when my marketing director Brian Shaddock, asked me if I would like to be on The Buzz radio show (103.7) with Pat Bradley and Justin Acri every Friday at 11:30 from now until December 16th, I agreed. Yes, it’s a sport show but I like sports. I do not have the male DNA to remember all the games and stats but I do watch a lot of sports and have a real girl’s point of view. But the real reason I’m on the Buzz, is to talk about all the Razorback items at Arkansas Flag and Banner.
Many retail stores have female purchasing agents, but not AFB. We have a male, Jeremy and he loves buying Razorback stuff!Flag and Banner