SASKATOON — The president of a chain of stores that sells flags across Canada says she doesn’t want to “react hastily” by pulling the Confederate flag from shelves.
Susan Braverman of The Flag Shop says in a statement to CKOM radio in Saskatoon that she wants to consult with franchise owners about continuing to sell the controversial banner before making a decision.
The flag is a contentious symbol in the United States, and there has been renewed criticism of it as a symbol of white power following deadly shootings at a South Carolina church last week.
Judy Denham, who owns a franchise of The Flag Shop in Saskatoon, says she’s removed Confederate flags from display, but says a decision on whether to stop selling them must come from head office.
Braverman, who is based in Vancouver, says the store there has also stopped displaying the flag.
She says the chain doesn’t endorse the sale of racist symbols.
“We have 13 stores across Canada, although I am the franchisor and can make a unilateral decision about removing the Confederate flag from our product line, that’s not how I operate,” Braverman said in the statement.
“The Confederate flag is not the first flag that has been used by some groups for racists purposes. It has, however, a historical background and so it’s important that we not react hastily.”
Braverman says she expects to have time to get feedback with franchise owners about the issue when business slows after Canada Day and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The alleged Charleston shooter, Dylann Roof, adopted the Confederate flag as a symbol of racial hatred. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley cited this as one of the reasons the flag should be removed from the grounds of the state’s legislature.
Denham said she stopped displaying the flag in her Saskatoon store to acknowledge what happened. She said it’s popular with younger buyers, but that they don’t have the same attachment to it as southerners in the U.S.
“I think they see it more as a fun novelty flag — Dukes of Hazard. They like to put it on their motorcycles or ATVs or their trucks,” Denham said.
If she has to, she said she’ll still sell it.
“I will sell it out of a box out of the back,” she said.
Wal-Mart said Monday that it is removing any items from its U.S. store shelves and website that feature the Confederate flag. Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said its goal is to not offend anyone with the products it offers.
With files from The Associated Press