To take the pulse of what’s happening in the world, look no further than the Montana Flag and Pole in Helena.
Fred Verzani, longtime business owner at 829 N. Last Chance Gulch with his wife Patti, said he has received numerous requests for Ukrainian flags since the country was invaded by Russian forces last week.
“It’s amazing,” he said in a phone interview on Tuesday, adding that they had received a dozen requests for the flags after selling out a few that were in stock.
“People want to show their support and be there any way they can,” he said.
Patti Verzani said she has received calls from the governor’s office and various government agencies about Ukrainian flags, but they have run out. She said they had found another supplier and would have nearly two dozen flags in the store by Thursday or Friday. American-made flags will come in 3-by-5-foot and 2-by-3-foot varieties.
The store now has a small Ukrainian flag on its front desk, just for display, as well as a Ukrainian map on the wall, Verzani said.
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Patti Verzani said people had offered to buy her the little flag, but she and her husband “won’t sell it.”
Fred Verzani said the flags people want can change in the blink of an eye, depending on world events. He said people often check Amazon.com before coming to his store. He said people often walk past the Last Chance Gulch store, see the large flags on poles outside, and decide to stop.
But it’s not just Ukrainian flags. Canadian flags have also been popular at the store lately, the Verzanis said.
Some Montanese joined Canadian truckers in a three-week convoy to protest coronavirus mandates.
The protest shut down a handful of Canada-US border crossings and closed key parts of Ottawa for more than three weeks, but all border blockades have now ended. A convoy is expected to roll on Interstate 90 through Montana on Wednesday, with multiple rallies in towns along the way.
Fred Verzani said some people even called and had flags sent to truckers.
“People are always concerned about Canada,” he said. “They want the good neighborly relationship.”
This story contains information from The Associated Press.
Associate Editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.