An Ontario business has sewn more than 15,000 flags since late February for Canadians looking to show their solidarity with Ukrainian citizens.
The Flag Store, which has locations in Toronto, Barrie and Thornton, Ont., has always sold the Ukrainian flag, but, starting in late February, CEO Cecelia Burke says she saw sales for the flag increase dramatically.
Since then, she says her and her team have sewn over 15,000 Ukrainian flags.
“On Feb. 24, all of a sudden we had people coming into our store and asking for [Ukrainian] car flags and dowel flags,” Burke told CTV News Toronto on Tuesday. She says she immediately called her team when she heard the news that war had broken out, told them something tragic had happened, and asked them to come back into the shop to start sewing extra flags.
Flags made by The Flag Store (Provided by Cecelia Burke)
When asked how she copes with the complicated relationship between tragedy and sales, she said, “I can honestly say I probably cry three times a day.”
“When you have a customer come in and actually touch their flag and they start to cry, then you start to well up too,” she said.
Many of her customers have tales of trying to reunite with relatives back home in Ukraine, she says.
“It’s been very heart wrenching at times.”
On Thursday, Burke attended a rally in Barrie to show her support for Ukraine, where she handed out some of her miniature flags for free.
“We just gave out the flags and sang and listened to the mayor — it was extremely emotional.”
The Flag Store is a family business. “My parents started this company 55 years ago and I continued on after they passed away,” Burke said.
She said she’s proud to mobilize her family company to help show support for Ukrainian citizens.
“The [flags] allow us to say, ‘Canada’s standing with you here and we are showing you support.’”