Annin Flagmakers

Annin Flagmakers announced earlier this week they no longer will produce or sell the Confederate battle flag or the Confederate field artillery flag.

Annin Flagmakers announced earlier this week they no longer will produce or sell the Confederate battle flag or the Confederate field artillery flag.

However, they will continue the sale of the Stars and Bars flag, Bonnie Blue flag and the second and third Confederate flag, according to Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing Mary Repeke.

For days national attention has been drawn to the controversy of the Confederate flag after Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old South Carolina man, shot and killed nine people at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The man charged in the deaths had been photographed with the Confederate flag.

Since the shooting, Annin Flagmakers, who has had one of its largest facilities in South Boston since 2003, has struggled over what they should do about manufacturing the Confederate flag along with many other retailers who are trying to decide whether or not to sell that flag.

Do they continue to sell it because it is part of history or do they let it go because of the negative connotations that have been attached to it over the years?

“We decided let’s err on the side of humankind,” said Repeke.

The marketing VP recognized the flag’s “powerful history” but wasn’t hesitant to speak on its “very negative and hateful” aspects. Also, with the Confederate flag only making up 0.001 percent of their sales, it became an easy decision.

Discontinuing the flag at Annin comes days after major retailers such as Wal-Mart and Amazon pulled theirs as well, and Repeke noted other major flag manufacturers in the Flag Manufacturers Association of America were following suit.

“Everything happened so fast, and it was very interesting to see each manufacturer independently make the same decision,” said Repeke.

Annin is a wholesaler that sells through a network of independent dealers and through mass market retailing chains. According to Repeke, most of the Confederate flags were sold to those independent dealers mostly for war re-enactments.

“The majority have been pleased with our decision. Several are still choosing to sell, and that’s fine. It’s more of a choice,” said Repeke.

Throughout the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag, the marketing VP suggested the focus hasn’t been where it should be since the shooting.

She believes more thought and focus should be on the “mentally ill youth” and “why he had the gun?”

“It’s sad these kind of people are falling through a filter. This whole thing is tragic,” Repeke concluded.

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com