Why are American flags still made in China?

Don't Waste Your Money
Posted at 2:07 PM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-04 18:04:46-04

This is the time of year many Americans proudly display the Stars and Stripes outside their homes.

But do you know where your flag was made? It turns out that thousands of them sold every year are still made in China.

Busiest time of year for sales

The weeks from flag day to the 4th of July are the busiest of the year at stores likeFlaggs USA, in Cincinnati's Oakley neighborhood.

They have dozens of styles and sizes of American flags, but all have one thing in common, according to co-owner Matt Amann says: They are all made in the USA.

"They come from the United States, they come from Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, a handful of manufacturers."

He says it's a fallacy to believe his flags are more expensive, pointing to front porch-sized flags as cheap as $10 each.

Customers like Chris Shea say that's important. "Philosophically, buying one from China just doesn't feel right," she said. "It's almost disingenuous. There's something very symbolic about buying one that's actually made  here."

$4 million still imported

You might find this hard to believe after 9/11 and recent terror attacks, but according to US government figures, $4 million dollars worth of American flags are still imported here from other countries every year, representing 10% of all American flags sold. 

That doesn't include the tens of millions of dollars worth of small flags, lapel pins, garden decorations, and other items displaying the red, white, and blue that are also imported.

Our quick check of two dollar stores found no full sized flags for sale, but many smaller American flag yard decorations saying "Made in China,"

But it's not just flags still imported from other countries. Last summer, Army veteran Peter Hollister was infuriated when he ordered a US Army hat, from a government website, and was sent one made in China.

"That's what bothered me the most: I wasn't buying it at some knockoff place, I paid $29.95 for it, and it was still made in China," Hollister said.

What do the laws say?

There's no law against it, and when a Chinese company can sell a flag for $2 that would cost $8 to make in the US, it still makes business sense for some retailers.

The military has laws requiring soldiers uniforms to be made in the USA, but not items sold to the general public or veterans.

However, many big retailers like Walmart now say they try to ensure all their American flags are American.
Matt Amann says look for a label that says "Made in the USA," or "FMAA certified" when you buy an American flag.

You're supporting American workers, and your country.
That way you don't waste your money.


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