Whatever Floats Your Flag
In most downtowns across America, there are a handful of staple successful businesses: the pizza place, the hardware store, the movie theater.
Then there are the niche stores that never seem to last long, the kind that make you wonder, can someone make a living selling just that?
In downtown Concord, N.H., that store might be Flagworks Over America. And as its name implies, it sells only flags.
Patrick: “That’s a 48-star cotton flag that belonged to my wife’s grandfather, and it use to fly over in the Chicago area out in front of their house…”
That’s Patrick Page, the owner of Flagworks Over America describing his favorite flag. It’s in his office, hanging behind his desk and it’s definitely not for sale. Patrick loves flags, but it wasn’t always his career. He started out in real estate. Then, he moved into a new place, and realized something was missing.
Patrick: We moved into a house and we needed a flag for that house, so I went to H.A. Holt on Main street, they’re no longer there, I went in and bought a flag and put it on my house and fell in love with the idea of selling flags. Did a bunch of research, did a test market, starting selling flags out of the trunk of my car, and I says I can do this, so I started selling flags out of my real estate office.”
The real estate office started to accumulate too many flags, so Patrick began looking for a space to sell them.
Patrick: "My friend says I need a business with a window..."
And that’s exactly what he has. Flagworks is located on Main Street in downtown Concord. The casual window shopper can peer in to see racks upon racks of multi-colored flags, ranging from national flags from every country in the world, to a flag embroidered with carrots. But the store isn’t limited to just flags… there are also shelves of cowboy boots because…
Patrick: “Most American cowboys believe in America.”
The majority of Patrick’s business happens when you expect it would; around Memorial day and the Fourth of July. But some of the store’s busiest holidays are surprising…
Patrick: Father’s Day is in there. We sell a lot of flagpoles for Father’s Day because that’s when the wife get’s him the flagpole that he’s always wanted… it seems more men want the American Flag flying… not to be chauvinist, but that’s just seems to be what I’ve noticed:
Although holidays support most of the business, Flagworks also sells indoor flags for classrooms, open and closed flags for storefronts, and custom flags made to order...some of which have flown high on the public’s radar….
Patrick: We always like to say the one going back to Bruce Springsteen we did the back drop for Bruce Springsteen… It was about 20 x 30 if I remember… For Born In The USA… and then we also did the one for Boston Pops that drops down, it’s still our flag, I saw it this year…”
But Flagworks does draw a line when it comes to custom flags..Patrick tells me that he’s turned down requests, including one for a swastika. But still, some of the more popular flags he sells do some with baggage…
Patrick: There’s a confederate flag. It’s still a very big seller. You know a lot of people have a lot of different feelings towards this particular flag, but to me it’s american history. Whether its good history or bad history, It’s still American history… Obviously we have the Gadsen now, it’s almost lost its meaning now… It stands for the tea partiers
Zach: What’s it say?
Patrick: Don’t tread on me.
In other words, for people like Patrick, Flags are more than a symbol. And if most of us only notice them during a Fourth of July parade, we might be missing out on their complexity, their signal of personal expression…a way to let the world know your solidarity with an idea, a country, or, in the case of that carrot flag, a vegetable.