Retailers nationwide are tripping over themselves rid any trace of Confederate flag merchandise from their shelves. The reaction comes in the wake of the massacre last week in Charleston SC that left nine black parishoners dead. Killer Dylann Roof shouted racial epithets as he opened fire, and shared a racist manifesto before committing what’s being investigated as a hate crime, and what many are calling outright terrorism.
The connections between South Carolinian Roof and the Confederate flag, which has flown at the South Carolina state capital in some form since the 1860s, are too much for major retailers to ignore. So far, some of the biggest companies in the country have stated that they will remove all Confederate flag merchandise from their shelves as soon as possible.
Wal-Mart was the first company to make such an announcement, saying “We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer. We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the confederate flag from our assortment—whether in our stores or on our web site.” Sears made a similar statement on Monday.
Then, yesterday, both Amazon and eBay–the two biggest online retailers in the country–followed suit, saying that they would remove all Confederate flag merchandise currently for sale and ban any future third-party retailers or auctions.
Popular craft site Etsy took a similar stand, saying in a statement that the company’s “policies prohibit items or listings that promote, support or glorify hatred and these items fall squarely into that category.” Zazzle, an online marketplace where customers can design their own items, said they would purge all Confederate flag merchandise within 24 hours, and added that the flag “has clearly evolved into a symbol of discrimination and divisiveness.”
Spencer’s is another retailer who’s refusing to sell Confederate flag merchandise from this point forward.
Amazon did note, however, that sales of Confederate flag merchandise were up a whopping 7,000% in light of the announcement.
But, as varying retailers have noted, the reasons people are buying Confederate flag-based items are varied. One woman in Georgia bought as many small flags as a nearby store had in stock because she wanted to line her front yard with them.
Another location, in San Antonio TX, sold “the biggest Confederate flag in the store” to a black man who’d come in with his daughter so they could burn the flag together.
And at least one Confederate flag manufacturer–Annin Flagmakers–has said that they will stop producing the flag altogether.