Walmart, Kmart, and Sears Remove Confederate Flag From Stores; Amazon, eBay Undecided
The Confederate battle flag is suddenly toxic.
CNN (“Walmart to stop selling Confederate flag merchandise“):
Walmart, the country’s largest retailer, will remove all Confederate flag merchandise from its stores, the company told CNN Monday.
The announcement is the latest indication that the flag, a symbol of the slave-holding South, has become toxic in the aftermath of a shooting last week at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. Gov. Nikki Haley announced in a Monday afternoon news conference that she supports removing the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds.
Walmart.com currently carries the Confederate flag as well as attire featuring the flag’s design, such as T-shirts and belt buckles.
“We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer. We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the confederate flag from our assortment — whether in our stores or on our web site,” said Walmart spokesman Brian Nick. “We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions when it comes to the merchandise we sell. Still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly — this is one of those instances.”
Sears Holdings Corporation, the owner of Kmart and Sears, also said Monday it would stop selling confederate flag merchandise online. It does not currently sell confederate flags at its stores.
“We are in the process of scrubbing our marketplace to pull those items down,” Sears Holdings spokesman Chris Brathwite told Reuters.
It’s mildly amusing that Kmart, considered by many the bottom of the discount store food chain, had already gotten rid of Confederate merchandise in its stores while Walmart hadn’t. Less amusing is that it took yet another murder spree and a call from CNN to prompt it after all these years. There’s still Amazon and eBay, however:
Amazon.com lists pages of Confederate flag-related merchandise, ranging from the flag itself to folding knives, T-shirts, blankets and even shower curtains.
eBay also carries the Confederate flag and accessories such as handbags and jewelry. The online auction site’s “offensive material policy” bans the sale of items that “promote hatred or racial supremacy including historic and current items.”
In fairness, those sites have a different business model than the big box stores, selling a lot of third party vendor merchandise; eBay is almost exclusively that. It’ll be interesting if the sites make it harder to sell Confederate merchandise in the future.
UPDATE: Both eBay and Amazon have now joined suit, saying they will ban items incorporating the Confederate battle flag.