We consulted with a Made in America expert about where to find flags that are 100% American-made.
Whether you call it Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes or the Star-Spangled Banner, the American flag is a popular patriotic accessory, especially on Independence Day. Americans of all ages can be seen waving the American flag at Fourth of July parades across America, and the American flag is proudly displayed at homes and businesses across the nation.
The flag has seen several changes since its inception in the 1700s. There is even mystery around its origin, as there a controversy as to whether Betsy Ross actually created the first American flag.
But here’s something far less mysterious: Many of the Red, White, and Blue banners flying across America are no longer Made in America.
China’s ascent into the world market economy saw the communist country produce cheap, American flags, and imports are now ubiquitous at many big box retailers. There has been some pushback, with several pieces of legislation introduced to require American flags that are purchased with American tax dollars to be Made in America. But imports still dominate, with 10 million American flags imported to the United States in 2017 — and all but 10,000 of those came from China.
That doesn’t mean, however, there aren’t American-made flag options.
We consulted with Mark Andol, the owner and CEO of the chain of Made in America Stores, about what companies still make their American flags stateside. Andol has been one of the Alliance for American Manufacturing’s favorite experts on all things Made in America since he opened his first Made in America Store location 13 years ago.
Andol now oversees three stores, offering 14,000 products that are 100% Made in America. His products are all triple-vetted — and the American flag is perhaps the nearest and dearest to Andol’s patriotic emotions.
“Our No. 1 product is the American Flag, and that is what I tell our marketing team,” Andol said. “That’s our No. 1 product that we are proud of, and we want to get as many flying as possible as we can in our country.”
Andol’s Made in America Stores proudly feature American Flags manufactured by Annin Flagmakers of New Jersey and Valley Forge in Pennsylvania. During the three years of the pandemic, supply chain issues and problems staffing stitchers and sewers made acquiring flags from these companies difficult at times, so the 57-year-old Andol also sourced from Atlas Flags in Georgia and Allegiance Flags in Charleston, South Carolina.
Annin Flagmakers is the grandaddy of them all. The company has been making American flags since 1847 at its three factories in New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia. Among its notable flag placings are at the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, as well as the flagged that draped his casket, the flag placed by the Apollo 11 historic mission to the moon and at the Field of Remembrance at Battery Park in New York City for the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Andol’s Made in America Stores also regularly carry Valley Forge flags, which are also 100% Made in Pennsylvania with American materials by American workers.
Both Annin and Valley Forge offer everything from handheld 4 x 6-inch flags to Andol’s No. 1 seller, the 3 x 5-foot flag, which is most commonly displayed in the front of homes. The Made in America Store also carries 4 x 6 foot and 5 x 8 flags. Larger flags found on commercial businesses can be special ordered from these companies. Most outdoor flags consist of a nylon/polyester blend to stand up to changing weather conditions, but all these companies make beautiful cotton stitched flags for indoor user or for draping the coffin of a fallen soldier.
While Andol is proud to sell flags by these Made in America companies, he also sees them as an educational tool for consumers who may not realize how much flag production has been offshored.
“We have tour buses that come from all over the country to the stores to see the products that are still Made in America and at the end of their shopping, I tell the people that we can at least agree that 50 percent of our flags are made overseas. I try to educate our people that a lot of our flags are made overseas, and we should at least make them here,” Andol said.
“We do a lot for our American Legions and VFWs, and we had a gentleman from the American Legion who did a flag sale and among the 100 flags he sold, 65 were returned and 45 of them were made in China. It was amazing,” Andol added. “The flags said made in China right across the stripes. We are willing to take these flags and dispose of them in the proper, dignified way, but people should be more aware of what they are buying.”
There have been some good signs for American-made flags. The Department of Defense is now required to purchase 100% American-made American flags, for example. And the Federal Trade Commission is now taking action against those who mislead consumers about where their products are made, which can be a problem with products marketed as patriotic.
“The FTC finally is actually having fines and holding people more accountable,” Andol said. “I thank God for our country-of-origin laws, because without that we would have no clue and without that there would be no way to do what we do. People want to know where these products come from.
“Our mission is to create futures for our children through American manufacturing. The veterans I run into love Made in America and they want their flags made here. They don’t want to hear that they are not. It bothers them. I see a tear in their or eye or by their facial expression.
“We owe it to these veterans to support what they fought for. I am not ashamed to say I love America. It is just in me.”
“The flag stands for everything we are as Americans and for of all of the fallen, of course,” Andol said. “The Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate America with the display of the American flag. It is very patriotic and the most flag-flying time of the year.
“Our fireworks may come from China, but we can show our American support by making sure that all of our flags are Made in America.”