World Cup Flags Sold By the Hundreds as Tournament Begins

An Arlington store owner could barely meet the demand.

Image via Associated press

Image via Associated press

It’s World Cup time, and the fans are flag hungry.

At the American Banner and Flag Company in Arlington, owner Seth Vu said his store is mostly void of the flags representing teams that qualified to play in this year’s global soccer matchups. “Basically, pretty much, there’s not a lot left,” he said. “Usually it’s always the first—the week before or two weeks before—where people come in and buy the flags. And we get stragglers sometimes.”

Vu said for the most part, everything is gone, and he’s sold somewhere between 600 to 700 large flags representing a host of countries in this year’s World Cup. Smaller, two-foot-by-three foot flags have also sold by the hundreds, he said. And as for the handheld flags? Well, there was no keeping those around. “The really small ones I’ve sold somewhere in the thousands,” Vu said.

The shop always makes sure to stock up, and even starts planning their shipment orders a year in advance, when World Cup officials announce which country will play host to the international games. “We always order extra [of everything],” said Vu. “We find out a year in advance where the World Cup is going to be held, and which country it is going to be held in, because the country that hosts it has a team in there, so people from that country always come in. Brazil is hosting this year so we bought more of the Brazilian flags.”

People might think it’s the American flags that are being purchased in the highest quantities at the shop on Massachusetts Avenue in East Arlington, but Vu said sales are actually generated by people from Uruguay, Costa Rica, France, and Germany. “I’ll get like 10 French guys, then I’ll get like two Americans, there is a big drop off for American flags,” he said. “For the most part, everything is basically all gone. But for the American flags, of course we always have extra supplies of American, especially during the World Cup.”

While Vu said his customers usually buy their signs of pride far in advance of the World Cup, Ned Flynn, owner of New England Flag Store in Watertown, said it isn’t busy in the beginning of the series, and only gains momentum as the wins start to happen. “Fans of certain countries get excited about it. It’s an immediate thing when they want it,” he said. “You know what happens, and it happened last time, it’s not something that happens too much before hand, but once it starts, what happens is, all of the sudden, depending on how a country’s team is doing, we might all of the sudden—let’s pick an example and say France—the next day we get all these people calling us.”

Flynn said he has only sold “dozens” of flags so far, but has commissioned special banners for certain teams. He said his company recently made an Italian flag with a soccer ball on it, for a restaurant in the North End.

Much like Vu’s shop, he said, Brazilian flags have been especially popular. “We have had people come in for Brazilian flags. When you have a country like Brazil, where they’re rabid for this, and they’re huge soccer fans—it’s a religion there,” he said.

In the coming days, Flynn said he expects sales to increase. “Will it hit the hundreds? I don’t know. It could,” he said. “It depends on which teams are winning.”