VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Businesses at the Oceanfront say sales are soaring for confederate flag merchandise.
The spike in sales comes as the debate strengthens nationwide on whether the battle flag should be displayed publicly. The renewed conversation comes on the heels of the church massacre in South Carolina that left nine people dead. The alleged gunman, Dylann Storm Roof, appeared in photos holding the flag.
Beach Bargains on Atlantic Avenue sells confederate flags, towels, shirts, hats and shot glasses.
“[Customers] ask a lot about the products and if we have more,” the manager said. “We sell a lot of t-shirts, and I just ordered a new pack of them because we sell a lot of those.”
Customers had mixed opinions about the confederate flag, but many feel the flag symbolizes a period of time that should not be silenced.
“The past is what it is, and you move on in the future, and I don’t think you should try to cover up anything,” customer Gordon Turpin said.
In the wake of the massacre at an AME church in South Carolina, many see the confederate flag as a toxic reminder of slavery in the south and say there’s no need for it to be displayed.
Deavonte Bell, of Richmond, said nobody’s interpretation of the flag’s meaning is the same. He considers the flag a symbol of America’s past worth preserving.
“I actually have white friends that have the flag in their house, but they like black people,” Bell said.
However, big businesses like Walmart, Amazon, Sears and eBay have stopped selling confederate flags.
As state’s across the nation announce ways in which they are banishing the battle flag, Governor Terry McAuliff announced Tuesday he is moving to have the flag removed from state license plates.