Contrary to expectations, people are buying more Israeli flags for the 70th Independence Day celebrations
Flag manufacturers, importers and retail chains are reporting that their stocks have run out, with flags selling at a dizzying pace. This is contrary to earlier forecasts. People selling flags at road intersections across the country have also said sales are higher than what they remember from past years, which saw a drop in the purchase of flags for hanging from cars or balconies.
On Monday morning, at the entrance to Beersheba, Avichai, an energetic man in his 20s, moves from car to car carrying flags emblazoned with the logo marking the state’s 70th anniversary. The standard Israeli flags went within one hour, he says. Like Avichai, many other young people are scattered around Beersheba intersections, carrying bags full of flags for sale. The price this year is five shekels (just under $1.50) per regular flag and 10 shekels for a flag with the logo.
At another junction near the city’s market stands Dvir Shatmer, 15, a student at a high school yeshiva in Mitzpeh Ramon. Shatmer and his friends took the day off to exploit the financial potential of the days before Independence Day. “Last year I sold a case of 200 flags in about eight hours. This year it took only five and a half or six hours,” he says. For every case he sells he earns 700 shekels, which he shares with three of his friends, all of them from his yeshiva. Another partner in this seasonal venture is Amitai Efrati, who says flag sellers throughout the city stay in touch and share information about hot spots for sales. “In the morning we were at the Gilat Center and sales there really took off, and then we came here at someone’s recommendation, but that was a mistake,” he adds.
A kilometer away, at a local Max Stock branch, no flags have been seen for several days. At the store’s doorway are two piles with hundreds of Snow Spray cans, the last ones to be found. The main checkout teller, Rachel, says she was surprised to see Israelis grabbing up flags. “We brought a lot of flags and I don’t know how to explain it, but this year they were snatched within two days. I work here, and I didn’t manage to buy one and I was told there weren’t any left. It’s unbelievable,” she said.
Manufacturers and importers say the craze for flags is evident around the country. Uri Rubin, a flag maker from Hadera who works mainly with institutions and companies, told Haaretz that “this year there is a surge in sales of flags for cars unlike in previous years. Maybe it’s because of the 70 years or the tense situation. I can’t put my finger on it.” He says that if there were a few million more flags they’d sell too, but there aren’t any anywhere.
Rubin notes that manufacturers and importers didn’t foresee the demand since in recent years sales had fallen. “Suddenly there was a huge awakening, just when we were unprepared,” he says. “There are only three or four manufacturers in the country, all the others just market them.” Rubin is pleased to note that the sale of flags for homes and large flags for cars, held on poles, are also showing a sharp rise.
Adir Amsalem, head of the southern branch of Adar Toys and of Red Panda, has also been left with no flags to sell. The company he works for is a wholesaler, selling to stores and institutions. “I’ve sold 30,000 units for cars this year. Last year I sold only half of that.” Amsalem says the same goes for any product connected with Independence Day. “Flags, plastic hammers, Snow Spray cans – they’ve all seen an increase in sales of almost 100 percent. The Ashdod branch sells to stores in south Tel Aviv so we know what’s going on there. The southern branch sells three times as much as the northern branch, as if the south has something different.”
“In the periphery the rise in sales is more noticeable than in the center or in larger cities,” Amsalem adds.