Stars and Stripes Fly High at Western Reserve Flag
BOARDMAN, Ohio – Patriotism for the stars and stripes is the highest its been in over 10 years with American flag sales flying high last year and seemingly even higher this year, says Nick Peluso, owner of Western Reserve Flag and Sports Ltd.
“People are getting patriotic and flying their flags again for whatever reason,” Peluso says, “Some people try and say last year being an election year is why, but I think it’s just that people like to fly flag again.”
The first American flag was created 240 years ago, in 1777, and in the time since has had its look changed 26 times. The current design, which has been in use for 56 years, is the longest lasting iteration. Sales of the flag have always been popular with some fluctuation in numbers from year to year. But depending on where the flag is purchased from, it may not be American-made.
At Western Reserve Flag, it’s sold in different sizes and materials such as cotton, nylon, polyester, or mesh. Versions on display at the store, 7332 Southern Blvd. in Boardman, are a Betsy Ross flag, a black and white flag with a thin blue line on the middle for support of law enforcement, and one with a thin red line for support of fire services. All are American made.
“We’re pretty unique. The big stores don’t carry the variety we do and most of theirs aren’t made in the U.S.,” Peluso says.
He and his wife, Barb, bought the store in 2015 after Peluso’s friend and the store’s former owner Ron Craig was looking to retire. “We saw the business and thought there was a need for it here,” Peluso says.
The flag store has been open for over 30 years by multiple owners and in different locations.
On top of American flags, his store sells flags representing states, the military and sports teams. He also creates custom flags for customers, usually for companies, and installs flagpoles. Peluso adds that he receives orders from customers who don’t live in the area anymore, but still want to buy from him.
Telescopic poles, made of aluminum with internal locking mechanisms, can be as tall as 15 feet and are usually installed for residential use. These poles are popular because they don’t have ropes and instead the flag is attached on swivels, allowing it to blow in the wind without getting wrapped around the pole, Peluso says.
Commercial poles go up to 40 feet and come in one piece with a heavier wall to them. The commercial flagpoles sold at Western Reserve Flag are manufactured in Columbus.
“We try and buy our poles within the state and keep it as local as possible,” he says
It’s been a good year for pole installations, Peluso says, as numbers have doubled from last year. Also helping business was the addition of team-branded merchandise, including tailgating products and decorations featuring team logos.
With the store being open year-round, Peluso’s busy season starts in April in the lead-up to Memorial Day, stays busy for Flag Day in June and the Fourth of July and ends after Veteran’s Day. Peluso started carrying the sports logo items to help with business during the winter months.
Looking forward, online shopping seems to be one of the biggest challenges for Western Reserve Flag, Peluso says.
“People say online is the way to go but it’s hurting things in the long run. You need to buy local and support local.”
According to a survey done by BigCommerce 51% of Americans prefer to online shop and e-commerce shopping is growing 23% year over year. But there are still the shoppers who like to go in store, see the quality of the product they are buying and know if what they’re buying is made in the states. Peluso bets his business on these shoppers.
“Not everyone is an online shopper, there’s a lot of people out there who want to come into a local business and see the product they’re buying,” he says. “If you quit buying local and shopping local we’re not going to have any local stores left, the small ma-and-pa shops will be gone.”
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.