Small Business Spotlight: A Complete Flag Source
by Laura Smith
Published: May 16,2010
A true flag-flying patriot
Business is a labor of love for the McIntyres
A Complete Flag Source, which is set to move in several weeks to a new location outfitted with a showroom, storage and office space, comes from a much more humble beginning.
The shop was originally operated inside a small enterprise called Jac Mac Ice Plant Co. as a small, sideline business.
Jac Mac Ice Plant Co. was a family business that opened when Jack McIntyre returned to Mississippi from World War II. It operated for 49 years and closed in 1996.
When the family decided to sell the ice business, Jim McIntyre bought the fledgling flag business from his brother.
At the time — 1996 — the flag operation had about 50 to 60 loyal customers, and every flag Jim McIntyre purchased could fit in the trunk of a car.
Yet, the business grew, and flags were then stocked in a closet in the home McIntyre shares with his wife, Brenda McIntyre.
Jim McIntyre built the business with hard work, determination and customer service.
“He just started calling on people,” Brenda McIntyre said. “He would drive to a town, and ‘farm’ it. He’d see a business with a flagpole outside and go in and talk to people. He’s a natural salesman.”
The business grew little by little, and Brenda McIntyre retired from her job to help keep the books for their growing business, which was still operated from the couple’s home.
After nearly five years in business, Jim McIntyre purchased a slew of marked-down flags from Annin & Company in March 2001.
“The flag business was very slow, and these flags were on special,” he said. “By Aug. 2001, I sort of had my head in my hands, saying, ‘What have I done?’ ‘What am I going to do with all these flags?’ Then 9-11 happened.”
Quickly, stores in Jackson sold out of flags, and those seeking flags found A Complete Flag Source in the Yellow Pages.
“People starting looking in the phonebook, and found us, because we didn’t have a storefront then,” Brenda McIntyre said. “We started selling everything we had. People were in our home buying everything we had.”
The national tragedy moved the McIntyres’ business from a home-based operation to a full-fledged business, and it contributed more to the couple’s patriotism: They won’t sell a United States flag that’s made from anywhere other than the United States, and they’re also members of the National Independent Flag Dealers Association. A Complete Flag Source also provides flags for military homecoming events as a donation.
Jim McIntyre said he always goes out of his way to shop locally, using local hardware stores and fabric shops, if he can.
He said the flag business isn’t without fierce competition, noting that he vies with the Internet, contractors and the federal government for customers.
The growth prompted a move in April 2002 to the business’current location at 4153 Northview Drive in North Jackson.
“We have steadily grown from having no place to having a retail shop with a workshop and storage,” said Brenda McIntyre.
And by the end of the month or first of June, A Complete Flag Source’s home will be at 5295 Interstate 55 on the West Frontage Road in North Jackson.
The couple bought the former Jaguar dealership site, which will allow for showroom space, offices and warehouse.
“We’ll have full-size flag poles that we can demonstrate and show off,” Brenda McIntyre said.
In addition to selling United States and Mississippi flags, A Complete Flag Source offers the flags of other states and countries in multiple sizes. Religious, military, collegiate and historic flags are for sale. The company’s flagpole offerings range from commercial, 80-foot units to kits for individuals’ trees and homes. Providing parts and service for flagpoles is another component of the business as is custom banners.
“It’s been a real gift to get into the business,” she said. “It’s as much of a service-oriented business as it is retail.”
Jim McIntyre said the business has given him and his wife plenty to do.
“It’s been an interesting business,” he said. “For the most part, we have happy customers. It’s seldom — if ever — that we’ve had a disgruntled customer because we supply things that make people happy and we service things that make people happy.”
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