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Ventura County

Banner Week for Flag Sales

Independence Day: Customers grab everything red, white and blue, except candies, to prepare.

July 03, 2001|MATT SURMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Eight-month-old Brooks and Davis Massey didn't know it, but they were soon to become the centerpiece of the family's Fourth of July festivities.

With only a couple days to go, Alma Massey searched through Bonnie's, a downtown Ventura costume store, picking up a crepe streamer here, a mini-flag there, to decorate her twins' stroller in red and blue parade finery.

"They're going to be patriotic whether they like it or not," she said.

At flag shops, department stores and candy shops, patriotism was evident, as folks stocked up during the busiest week of the year for the red, white and blue.

The Wal-Mart in Simi Valley received a shipment of 200 flags at Memorial Day and has seen sales soar the last couple of days, from "little bitty" ones to banners that hang out in front of homes.

"We're really running out now," said Gloria Morfin, the store's assistant manager.

It's so hectic at American Eagle Flags & Banners in Ventura that after the Fourth of July, owners Don and Maria Robinson will take the rest of the week off.

"We're swamped," Maria Robinson said as she rang up an order, talked on the phone and watched as her nephew and niece helped out in the store.

Although the Robinsons sell all sorts of flags, including custom banners, Old Glory is the big seller this week.

On Monday, George Monterrosas of Oxnard stopped in for a replacement.

"This year, I'm treating myself to a new flag," he said. He'll fly it alongside the Marine Corps flag, a tribute to his soldier son.

The Robinsons have owned the shop for the last two years, but during the Persian Gulf War, folks were lined up outside the store, and it took more than a year to get the store's inventory back in stock.

At Bonnie's, shoppers were also going for snappers, which pop when they're thrown on the ground, silly string and all the adult-size Uncle Sam costumes in stock.

"Year after year, they come buy this stuff," said Richard Anthony, the store's warehouse manager. He pointed to red, white and blue bangles as big sellers, and said car flags were also favorites.

"We sell lots of stuff for [Ventura's Pushem-Pullem] parade," he said.

At the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Camarillo, the traditional chocolates were still selling better than the red, white and blue confections, which included decorated Oreo cookies and patriotic lollipops.

But clerk Heather Seckinger expected the little white bears with patriotic T-shirts to pick up in popularity.

"They'll be sold out," she said. "We hope."

*

Times photographer Spencer Weiner contributed to this story.

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