Ohio retailers say ‘no’ to sales of Confederate flags

(AP) — Flag retailers across Ohio are pulling Confederate flags off their shelves after the shooting deaths of nine people last week at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Several flag stores in the Columbus, Toledo, Akron and Dayton areas stopped selling the flag this week, following the lead of national and online retailers including Wal-Mart, Amazon, Sears, eBay and Etsy.

The suspect in the South Carolina shooting, Dylann Storm Roof, appeared in photos holding the flag. Leaders in southern states have also called for the removal of the flag from statehouse grounds.

Until this week, The Flag Lady’s Flag Store in Clintonville had sold four confederate flags this year. Vice President Lori Leavitt Watson told The Columbus Dispatch the store has decided Wednesday to stop selling the flag after receiving 82 orders on Tuesday evening.

Watson said it became clear that the flag was being purchased for something other than historical purposes.

“We’re not about that,” Watson said. “We love our country, and what’s happening with the Confederate flag is not love of country. It’s wrong.”

While some Ohio owners were put off by the sudden spike in demand for the flag, others said they would keep selling it due to a reluctance to take a “political stance.”

Joe Stoll, the owner of Toledo Flags, told the Toledo Blade that his store will continue to sell the Confederate flag and that in the 18 months he has owned the store, he has only sold a handful. On Tuesday, however, three customers came in his store to buy flags.

“Politics put aside, I’m going to sell what people want to buy,” Stoll said. “I’m not out promoting this flag for those people who want to get one. As a business person, you can’t turn someone away.”