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 July 4th Marks Banner Year for LR Flag-Making Business

Arkansas Democrat
By Ellen F. Kreth

Not only is Arkansas Flag and Banner celebrating the Fourth of July, but it is celebrating the holiday in a new building, the restored Taborian Hall. For Kerry Krouse Thompson McCoy, the Fourth of July is more than a patriotic event. It's her busiest time of the year. As the owner of Arkansas Flag and Banner, she sells anything that is red, white and blue. The business she started 17 years ago, when she was only 20 years old, also sells flagpoles and banners - but not ordinary banners. McCoy's banners are custom made from fabric art and sell for anywhere from $200 to $5,000.


The banners are sold through a division of Arkansas Flag and Banner, Fabric Arts International. "This is our biggest time of the year and then the month of Christmas is also busy," she said. McCoy said business is great. "I loved the war last year, I got the flu and didn't come up here and war broke out the same day." She was swamped with orders for flags, she said. And some of that business i carrying over. "Patriotism is flourishing."

However McCoy, a North Little Rock native, also has clients all over the world, including recently acquired ones in Tokyo, Puerto Rico and Hawaii. A majority of the business is selling banners. McCoy's portfolio already includes banners that can be seen when vising Ramses the Great exhibition and the Soviet Space Exhibit in Dallas. Other major clients include Exxon, the Catherine the Great Exhibit, the Texas State Fair, Haggar slacks, Georgetown in the Park, Southwest Airlines and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

As the business grew, Mcoy saw she would have to find a larger building. She got more than she bargained for. Tow years ago, she bought the dilapidated 18,000-square-foot Taborian hall. "Susan Roesgen (then at KATV, Channel 7) did a piece on it. I saw it on TV and wished my business was big enough to use the building." She has incorporated her business designs into her new building. From the outside, it appears the building has windows. But they are really fabric, which she painted to appear to be windows.

"Look America, this is what we're doing with fabric all over the country," she said, showing off the pseudo windows. When McCoy started the project, she estimated the renovation would cost $150,000. She was mistaken. She got bids and the lowest one was $250,000. When she realized the cost of the project, she decided to scrap it. But after realizing there wasn't another buyer, she found another $100,000. "It was risky in the beginning. You had to be a gambler," she said. "It was an emotional kind of thing. It's not rational. It's like having a baby. If you think about it you wouldn't do it." The city of Little Rock also gave her a Little Rock Facade Grant, which amounted to $30,000. At present, McCoy's business only occupies the first floor. Will she ever renovate the entire building?

"It cost a quarter of a million dollars just to get this far," she said, adding "I hope we grow up to the second floor." Right now, the business employs 10 people. As well as renovating the building, which was built in 1917 and became vacant during the '80s, McCoy learned of the historic hall's past. "Everybody that comes in here has a story," about something that happened in the hall, she said.
McCoy hasn't decided what she will do with the third floor, which still has a stage intact. But she said, "I'm open to suggestions." McCoy , who is married to Grady McCoy, and investment banker, has three children: Meghan Thompson, 12, Gray McCoy, 4, Matt McCoy, 2.

"I have a 2-year-old son and I was pregnant with him when I first started (the Taborian Hall project)," she said. "You can be a mother of three and have a business at the same time."

Posted on June 28, 1992.



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