Meet The Flag Lady's Flag Store

About Us


The “entrepreneurial” gut instinct” led The Flag Lady’s Flag Store to where it is today. Time has marched on since 1980 when, ”The Flag Lady”, Mary Leavitt started selling the USA flag from the trunk of her car in Libertyville, Illinois. ”The Flag Lady” firmly believes that only in the United States of America could someone, like her, raised in a low-socio economic family, with a high school education, be given such incredible opportunities and that ”America is a Tradition of Legacy”.

Mary Leavitt, Founder, and Lori Leavitt Watson, her daughter, along with their devoted employees, have worked the business together and continue to maintain growth while looking towards the future. They have had the opportunity to do business with Small Business America, Corporate America, Fortune 500 Companies, military units and families, schools, churches, government entities, and homes owners across the United States.

The Flag Lady’s Flag Store is ”ABOUT YOU, NOT US”! You mean so much to us. We don’t take you for granted. You are our inspiration. We strive every day to give you Good Customer Service, Timely Deliveries, Quality Products (Our USA flag will always be made in the USA and the majority of our products are also made in the United States). Thanks to you we are one of the top 5 Flag Dealers in the United States.

We got there through hard work, determination, passion, creativity and team work. We will not let you down. Our work is guaranteed. We over see it ourselves. We have the capacity to sell or produce one piece or thousands of pieces. It all starts with good knowledge of the product, closely listening to what the customer wants and filling their order accordingly. We will not let you down. All we need is your idea or your art file and we will handle the rest. Click here for our custom information page.

”If we don’t have it, we will find it and we can’t find it we will make it.”

We are dedicated to Our Veterans and the the military who are serving Our Country. We see ourselves as a small business surrounded by communities, cities and villages who will find a way to honor ”Our USA Flag” for which it stands: ”One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

”God Bless You and Yours and God Bless America!”

 

Meet the Flag Lady

The Flag Lady’s Flag Store was founded on a profound sense of patriotism, love and faith. The Flag Lady, Mary Leavitt has been inspired throughout her life by the patriotism she was taught as a child and she carried those lessons forward. She began selling flags out of her car while living in Libertyville, Illinois, during the Iranian crisis, in February 1980. A few years later she, her husband Tom, and children moved back home to Columbus, Ohio, where she went back to working as a legal secretary. The Flag Lady missed selling The Flag so much that she began selling it on her lunch break. One day she read an article about the dedication of the addition to the Veteran’s Memorial building and she wanted the Veterans to have ”BIG” USA and Ohio flags inside the new addition. When she contacted those in charge she learned there was no money in the budget for the flags but she was encouraged to get someone to donate them.

She sat at her desk and envisioned the whole city and wondered, ”Who would donate these flags?” Bob Caldwell of Caldwell Chrysler-Plymouth came to her mind. He always had displayed U.S.A. flags across each of his car dealerships. Mary called him and asked him if he would donate the flags and he didn’t hesitate one moment. When Mr. Caldwell was sitting at his desk writing the check, he looked at Mary and said, ”Why are you a legal secretary?” She replied, ”I have been a legal secretary all my life, why are you asking me that question?” He replied, ”Because you should be selling The Flag.” She got tears in her eyes and told him she would love selling the flag again. He asked her, ”Why aren’t you selling it?” She told him she had problems: no money for inventory or office equipment. He said he would loan me the money for the inventory and give her a room with equipment in his company. Then he asked, if there were any other problems, and Mary replied, ”Yes, I don’t have a car.” He said, ”That is no problem. I have a lot full of cars. I will give you a car to use to get started. The question is, ‘Mary, do you want to sell the flag or not?’” She called her husband and he said, ”Go for it!” That evening she picked up a Reliant K and the next day gave her painful two week notice to her boss, Arthur I. Vorys. He was absolutely disappointed, but having been a WWII veteran who lost an eye at Okinawa, his heart was touched about how she felt about Our Flag.

Through the kindness of Mr. Caldwell and her Aunt Nigel (who gave $5,000 to buy inventory and a typewriter), she was selling The Flag once again from the trunk of her car in ”Good Ole’ Hometown Columbus.” The business grew from her basement to her first storefront on Indianola Avenue in 1984.

Mary began to feel overwhelmed; the business had grown beyond her expectations. She knew that she needed help and just as she did during her most troubling times, she said a little prayer. A short while later she saw her husband get off the bus. He came into the store and explained with a heavy heart that he had been laid off. Her reaction surprised him; she was elated. ”I just asked for help and here you are! Now let’s sit down together and start this business?” she said.

That’s exactly what they did! Their business grew, eventually moving to its current location on North High Street in Columbus, Ohio and adding a handful of valued employees. Their daughter Lori joined the business after finishing college and rapidly grew the Custom Department of the business. Today Mary and Lori run the business together and continue to maintain growth while looking towards the future.

Why was the Flag Lady passionate about ”Old Glory”? It all started because of the family in which she was blessed to be born. Here is more of her story…..

I came into the world as Mary Margaret Haley in Columbus, Ohio.

    My father ("Daddy") was Irish and a pipefitter with the Pennsylvania Railroad. He had an 8th grade education. Daddy's family served in the revolutionary war, the war of 1812, the battle of Tippecanoe and my great-grandfather served as a captain in the civil war for 4 years. Daddy's family was steeped in patriotism. My father, who died of cancer when I was 13, asked me to promise him that I would graduate from high school. I kept my promise and graduated from Columbus North High School.

    My Mother was German. She was the second generation to be born in the U.S. and she had a 6TH grade education. Mother had a rule in our home: do not lay anything on top of the bible and do not let our flag touch the floor.

    There were six Haley grandchildren, and I was the only one who noticed that Grandma Haley always had a 4x6" U.S. flag in her purse. One day I asked her, "Grandma Haley, why do you always carry that flag in your purse?" she replied, "Who knows, I may get a chance to wave it today." She loved for us to sit at her desk with her while she shared our family's patriotic history and told me about Abraham Lincoln.

    When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (my parents always addressed him with his full name) was on the radio with his "Fireside Chat", I was directed to be at the radio to hear him. When the Star Spangled Banner was played, Mother, Daddy and I stood beside the Philco radio, placed our hands over our hearts, and faced the east (towards Washington, D. C).

    When my "big brother", Bobby, 15 years older than I, went off to World War II, Mother displayed our flag from the porch, put the serve star banner in the window and dressed me in red, white and blue. Those years are indelible in my mind. It was my way of life. We were proud of Bobby, kept him in our prayers, and Mother waited everyday to see if Pat, the mail carrier, had a letter for us. Sometimes they were censored. We made sure he got letters from home. He called me his little angel from heaven.

    Daddy wanted to do something more. He became an air raid warden. When the sirens blew and the lights went out all over the city, Daddy put on his helmet and carried the flashlight out the door. I felt soooo safe.

I had the biggest and best wagon. Daddy and I used to pick up scrap metal and take to the Sohio station. I ran around the neighborhood exchanging Mother's nylon hosiery ration stamps for the sugar and flour ration stamps.

    Almost every weekend after Daddy got off work on Friday, we took the train to Indianapolis to see our family. I noticed that the white-haired ladies offered their seats to the military men. Sometimes when we arrived in the middle of the morning at the train station, there would be ladies with a buffet set-up to give the men going off to the war one more good home-cooked meal.

    On Saturday mornings after breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa Haley, we would walk across the biggest park in Indianapolis to the home of my Grandma and Grandpa Pfeiffer. I loved the walk across the park. There were many people in the park. I saw military trucks, trucks with red crosses, saw people crying and heard military bands playing. When "old glory" passed us (no matter how many times), Daddy would be put his hat over his heart, Mother and I would put our hands over our hearts. There was one song that helped me figure out (in my little mind) what Mother and Daddy meant when I asked them, "When is bobby coming home?" and they answered, "When it's over, over there, Bobby will be home.” This is what I memorized of that song and it made sense to me:

    "Over there, over there, send the word, send the word that the yanks are coming, the yanks are coming, and it won't be over 'til it's over, over there."

    Life went on. I married my high school sweetheart, Tom, and we were blessed with three children. Our older son, Andy, elected to join the U.S. Navy when he graduated from high school. After boot camp, his ship was sent to the Mediterranean and then his ship ended up off the coast of Iran in case the military went in.

    We were living in Libertyville, Illinois. When we were looking for our home with realtor, I saw it on the map. I loved the name. It wasn't convenient for my husband since he was working in downtown Chicago and Libertyville was 45 minutes from the Wisconsin border.

    On the radio, there was a disc jockey, in Chicago, saying repeatedly, "Fly your flag, put a candle in the window and a yellow ribbon around the tree." I put the candle in the window and the yellow ribbon around the tree, but I couldn't find our flag anywhere. I went out to buy a flag, but not one merchant anywhere had our flag in stock. They told me to come back during "flag season." That really upset me. Tom, my husband, said, "Why don't you do something about it?"

    I heard him. I did something about it! I found a flag company about 30 miles away but he only sold wholesale. I pled my case with him and he finally sold me a flag. Then I asked him if he would wholesale me some flags to sell in Libertyville door-to-door. I really didn't fit the description of its wholesalers. I shared with him how my family was steeped in patriotism. They had served in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Battle of Tippecanoe, the Civil War, WWII, and now my son was off the coast of Iran. I finally convinced him. He gave me 12 flags and told me to have the money back to him the next Saturday or the flags.

    Off I went to Libertyville - could hardly wait to start selling "Old Glory” door-to-door. I had the twelve sold by Wednesday and took the money to the company. They asked me if I wanted twelve more - - - and told me I could really sell the flag. Then, one day, they opened their catalog and said, "Welcome to the wonderful world of flags. We think you can really sell the flag. We would like for you to start calling on companies." It was my turn to payback. They put some larger flags in my car for corporate poles and off I went on a new venture into the wonderful world of flags.

    One day, while I was out ringing doorbells, I noticed a tattered "Old Glory" flying from a bank. This was going to be my first call on a company. I got out of my car and walked in snow halfway up my legs into the bank. The man who welcomed me at the door was the president of the bank. I told him I was selling our flag from the trunk of my car and I asked him if he would like to replace his tattered "Old Glory" flying from the flagpole. He got tears in his eyes and said, "I am a WWII veteran, and I certainly will replace that tattered "Old Glory."

    A man who had made a deposit came to me and asked, "Did I hear you say that you are selling 'Old Glory' from the trunk of your car with snow halfway up your legs?" I said, "Yes sir, I am." he said, "I am with the Libertyville news. May I interview you for a story?" The next week the article appeared in the paper, titled "Woman Sells U.S. Flag Door-to-Door.” From that article, I sold another flag to a company.

    On the coattails of that, the Chicago Sun Times called me and asked if they could interview me for an article in the paper for President's Week. It was entitled, "Meet the Flag Lady."

    On that day - February 15, 1980 - my life changed. It led me on my journey to The Flag Lady's Flag Store.

    Now you know the rest of the story.

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