How can I not talk about Wednesday’s siege on our Capital and its possible effect on the flag business?
It’s weird to think about … Arkansas Flag and Banner preceded Google on the web by three years and became one of Google’s first customers. It’s true! They used to send me Christmas gifts. I got a Google beach towel one year and a Google mini fridge the next year; it never really cooled.
Most people probably do not realize this, even those that read my blog regularly, but the official name of my blog is Bannerisms and its official web address is Bannerisms.com. What a weird, made-up name. What does that even mean? And why did I let someone talk me into that name?
Synonyms for small business owners: problem solver, therapist, lender, mother, teacher, enabler, enforcer, sympathizer, promoter, communicator, capitalist, and optimist. Take out capitalist and lender and it could be a job description for a preacher or homemaker.
Recently, as I was checking-in on our company Facebook page and reading some of the comments made on the half-staff notification for Ruth Bader-Ginsburg. I was taken aback by the lack of civility and misspellings. When I asked my staff about it, they shrugged helplessly and said, “We think it is Russian bots.” What?!
Have you ever noticed that schoolteachers are good at everything? They are task oriented, organized, trained to think linearly, good communicators, punctual, dress appropriately, work well in groups, and are often optimistic by nature. Anytime I see “schoolteacher” on a resume’s list of prior jobs, I want to hire them. Out of necessity, I have recently been looking at a lot of resumes and hoped, with the current school situation, there might be a few teachers wanting to change careers but, so far, no luck.
Last month, in another blog post, I wrote that FAB had some exciting news to share and I could not wait to tell everyone. Also, if you remember, last year I asked my readers for suggestions on adding a new product line that would complement FAB by having merchandise synergy and a peak season in the winter months (opposite FAB’s summer peak in flag sales). Thank you for all the good product suggestions …
It has been years since I played in the rain. Recently, a rain event began in panic and desperation as I tried to stop flooding into our warehouse that has over $250,000 worth of inventory in it, but ended in a carefree, childlike feeling.
This past flag season, which is the second quarter of every year, it seems everybody in America was looking to represent themselves with a flag.
At first, I thought it was just the flag business that was seeing unprecedented sales. But, after noticing all the bare shelves in other retail stores and after asking around, I realized that this phenomenon is all over the place. People are shopping and spending their eating-at-home savings and newfound stimulus money like crazy.
When I first started Flag and Banner, I waitressed at Sir Loin’s Inn to supplement my income. I was young and my boss at the restaurant, Mr. Aaron Ross, was a business mentor, of sorts. One day, I asked, “What’s it like to be the boss?” I’ll never forget what he said because it’s proved true over and over again. He said, “Being the boss is doing all the things you can’t pay other people to do.”
As the shipping boxes began to pile up by the recycle bin, so, too, did my guilt. How many trees had to die in the fulfillment of my consumerism? Shipping a single item per box with all its packing waste is not exactly earth friendly, but I rationalized that I was saving on fuel and reducing air pollution. It seems that, in all of life, there is a trade-off.
This week on my radio show, Up In Your Business, the returning guest from Arkansas’s Small Business Administration, State Director Edward Haddock, went over the new programs currently rolling out for small businesses. Having applied for both the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and the Paycheck Protection Program Grant, I felt it was important for me to share my experience with my listeners and demystify the process for my business peers. Here is what I learned:
Though it was only last week, it seems like a lifetime ago that Mayor Frank Scott’s secretary called and, most apologetically, canceled the mayor’s guest appearance on Wednesday’s live broadcast of Up In Your Business, saying a COVID-19 case had just been reported in Arkansas and Governor Asa Hutchinson had called an emergency coronavirus task-force meeting.
Valentine’s day doesn’t have to be just for lovers. There may be other sweethearts in your life. Look around. Who is happy to see you, brightens your day, or makes your life easier or more fulfilling?
I am often aligned with creative people. In the past, I wondered why, because I didn’t feel like I had any discernible art-form. Then, one day, while interviewing a guest on Up In Your Business, I realized that business itself is creative and that problem solving with others, in the frame of business, is my art-form.
Meet Robert Ray from Michigan. He climbs flagpoles. Through NIFDA, we learned of Robert’s nerves of steel and hired him to climb the 30 ft. flagpole atop the five story Federal Bankruptcy Court building in downtown Little Rock.
It is not easy to be the rule enforcer at home or at work. The answers of how, when, and what actions should be taken, will be lessened by following these simple and straightforward rules.
Each fall, after flag season (which is April, May and June), the flag manufacturers and dealers of this cottage industry get together and compare notes. We are friendly competitors. Like restaurants clustering together in proximity for increased market share, flag companies are stronger together.
The flag business is seasonal. During the cold months, our sales drop off dramatically. It makes sense; during the winter, we’re all indoors and flags, for the most part, are outdoor products. Last year, during these slow months, FlagandBanner.com made a calculated decision to allocate more money for advertising than ever before. If there was ever a silver bullet for selling flags in the winter months, we were going to find it. I can conclusively say: There is no silver bullet.
As you can imagine, I had lots of comments about my decision to stop selling the Confederate battle flag. My favorite response was from a lady who was in favor of my decision. Her closing words were “Not today, Satan, not today!”
Shortly after my announcement, I got a visit from my friend, Randall, who also happens to be the President of the Sons of the Confederacy in Arkansas. He, as he put it, “Came in defense of my ancestors.” I was expecting him.
As I said in a press conference on the front sidewalk of the FlagandBanner.com building, freedom of speech is what makes America great, which includes waving the flag of your choice. And, frankly, I just figured it would blow over soon. I was wrong.
A few years back I took a leap of faith and hired for a new position, a sales assistant position. My thought was, this new person could help streamline and alleviate some of the busy work of my sales staff, thus freeing up my experienced salespeople to use their time more wisely, ie. selling. It worked. Sales increased, morale increased, and a team atmosphere was garnered.
I’ve heard it said, “He is a natural born manager.” I don’t believe it.
It took me years no, – decades – to learn how to manage employees. As I sit in the salon chair getting my hair blown out and listen to my stylist (who also happens to be the salon owner) shout orders to her assistants, I realize how much I’ve learned.