Victorians continue to show their support for war-stricken Ukraine, moving in herds to purchase the country’s blue and yellow flag to fly in solidarity.
So much so, inventory is flying off the shelves at The Flag Shop in Victoria.
The downtown store, in business for over 30 years, is currently sold out of Ukrainian flags, as staff work overtime to fulfill a backlog of orders.
As of Wednesday afternoon, owner Paul Servos counted 180 names on the waitlist, requesting flags of all sizes, including car flags.
“As soon as [Vladimir] Putin crossed the border, we sold out within a few minutes. So now what we’re doing is making them as fast as we can,” Servos told Victoria Buzz.
“This is pretty dramatic for us. Normally, we see something coming and we stock up a bit, but we never imagined this desire of people to show their support.”
It’s the emotion behind it all that keeps his staff going, as they hear stories from customers of Ukrainian descent scared for their loved ones back home.
“When you feel that emotion, you just have to help, right?”
“My wife is of Ukrainian descent as well, so she’s been inspiring us to do what we can,” noted Servos.
“For us, we see this as a community service to get as many of these out as we can. It’s a big challenge doing one at a time. It’s a lot of work.”
Servos says locals are so passionate that they’ve actually called in asking if they can volunteer to help make flags. However, he says it’s just not possible with COVID-19 protocols in play.
It takes about an hour to make a standard 3 x 6-foot flag, says Servos, noting the shop’s machines have been running non-stop with staff working seven days a week.
“And it’s not because we’re making any money,” he explained. “It’s because it’s very labour intensive to make these and because we don’t want anyone to be disappointed.”
“If we all do a little tiny bit, it will make a difference. That’s why we’re here working weekends trying to make as many flags as we can.”
More inventory should arrive in the coming days, which will help ease the backlog, says Servos. “We’re having it air-shipped, so it gets here in a timely manner.”
Last week, the shop delivered flags to numerous well-known buildings around town, including a giant 12-foot Ukrainian flag now soaring above the Grand Pacific Hotel.
“The City of Victoria and most municipalities now have one that they are flying on their Municipal Halls. The biggest, nicest one is, of course, at the Grand Pacific Hotel,” said Servos.
“We’re trying to get them out to the key visible locations first – the municipalities and fire halls and things like that, and then we’re filling all the other orders that have come in as well.”
Another Stand with Ukraine rally set for Sunday:
The local Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) branch is gearing up to host another rally this weekend, together with the UVic Ukrainian Students’ Society and Victoria Ukrainian Cultural Centre.
It’s set for this Sunday, March 6th, and kicks off at 12:30 p.m.
“Join us in rallying in support of Ukraine and democracy! We will be lining Douglas Street from the Ukrainian Cultural Centre at 3277 Douglas Street all the way downtown!” stated organizers.
“Bring flags, signs, and other visible signs of your support for Ukraine!”
Last Sunday, large crowds gathered in solidarity on the lawn of BC’s Legislature. UCC Victoria president Devon Sereda Goldie described the rally as “impactful.”
“Everybody is really concerned; we’re hurting. To be able to gather together as a community is really special,” Goldie told Victoria Buzz.