Retailers report that sales of the Confederate battle flag are surging after violence involving white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month, according to Reuters.
Reuters reported Tuesday that much of the new demand is getting filled by imports from China and other nations as most major U.S. flag makers no longer produce the controversial symbol.
Chris Ackerman told Reuters that his Civil War memorabilia shop in Pennsylvania has seen a noticeable rise in requests for the Confederate battle flag.
“We need to get more flags,” he recalled saying following the first order his Gettysburg Regimental Quartermaster store received after an Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville.
Ackerman said demand has since rocketed fourfold to as many as 40 sales in a week, an uptick he compared to rising gun sales while new firearms control measures are considered or feared.
The Gettysburg Regimental Quartermaster store’s website sells $400 handmade flags to re-enactors and $40 ones shipped from China.
The owner of Alabama Flag and Banner in Huntsville, meanwhile, said sales of the flag peaked at 150 in a single day last week.
“I have been quite surprised,” Belinda Melson-Kennedy said of her store in Huntsville, noting last week’s sales are equal to roughly a quarter of average annual sales.
Dixie Outfitters in Odum, Georgia, additionally told Reuters that its flag orders have quadrupled this month.
Owner Dewey Barber said he sells as many as 15,000 Confederate flags annually, adding that he obtains them from distributors who usually source them from overseas.
White nationalists descended upon Charlottesville earlier this month to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The situation in Charlottesville turned violent when a car drove into a crowd of counter-protesters opposing the white nationalists, killing one person.
The bloodshed there has since provoked national debate over the value of Confederate imagery in modern times.
Critics argue Confederate symbols are a painful reminder of slavery, while advocates counter they are a valuable artifact of U.S. history.