MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Barbara Dabney has been the owner of Freedom Flag & Banner for 31 years. Whatever you need, she’s got it or can make it.

“We have everything. We have the tiny one you can put on your hard hat for construction workers, all the way up to the 30 by 60 footer that they hang at a dealership and everything in between.”

In addition to Old Glory, 98% of which sold are made in the USA, the store has just about every flag in the world. It grew from humble beginnings, just her and a sewing machine, making flags in 1989.

“The first major event we saw was Desert Storm and then Hurricane Andrew. Then we got heavily into the Super Bowl doing a lot of printing and designing for them and a lot of sporting events. Then one thing led to another – football, basketball, the draft.”

And baseball. She worked with Billy the Marlin designing a custom World Series Championship flag in 1997 for the then Florida Marlins.

Her store is an authorized retailer of the oldest and largest flag maker in the world, Annin. Flags are always in demand, for government, parades,  businesses.  But nothing prepared her for the sudden flood of patriotism on September 11, 2001.

“There was about a month and a half that we basically lived here.  They lined up down the door down the street just to wait even in the rain to come inside and get flags.  It was a pretty touching time.”

Miami’s multicultural so she has flags from everywhere, much to the delight of international visitors here for the Ultra Music Festival.

“They are so excited to have their  country they are surprised that we even have their country flags here.”

Among top clientele is the cruise industry. Each vessel’s needs include mandatory marine “courtesy flags,” flown in foreign waters as a token of respect. When that industry stalled in March, due to <a href=”https://miami.cbslocal.com/category/coronavirus/&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>coronavirus</a>, the effect was instant.

“I had 16 people employed in the back sewing every day laying out different flags and banners.”

Now, there are just three employees. She is seeing some uptick lately. There is some work in repairing large more expensive flags. Her associate explains that when a flag is ripped too far and the flag starts to look square it’s not repairable.

Dabney clearly loves her work, sharing her favorite thing: The people.

“Because their flag is such a  passionate thing, whether it’s for their church or a special event, they want to tell you the whole story. They want to talk and talk, and I like to listen so it’s been fun it’s been a good run.”

You can learn more by visting the website here: Freedom Flag & Banner

Marybel Rodriguez

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