| Hope E. Tremblay
WEST SPRINGFIELD – Wendy Diamond, owner of Flag Fables, has found the key to retail success with the perfect combination of online and brick-and-mortar sales.
Flag Fables was started 35 years ago by Longmeadow resident Pam Stewart who had a vision to make people’s homes more beautiful and whimsical. Diamond began working with Stewart, selling their handmade appliqued decorative flags at craft shows.
At the time, decorative flags were unheard of and people began purchasing them to hang on their homes for holidays and the different seasons.
Diamond purchased Flag Fables in 1988 and in 1990, she opened the first retail shop in Springfield at the “X” and the business began to grow.
Flag Fables had two more locations in Springfield, but Diamond needed somewhere more on the beaten path that had good parking and was on a main thoroughfare, so she moved the store to Riverdale Street in the Planet Fitness Plaza. Business was still good, so she moved to a larger space in the same plaza where she remained for 11 years until purchasing the building across the street three years ago.
At this location, which she said is Flag Fables’ forever home, Diamond and her staff, which includes Marketing Director Larri Cochran, operate the retail store and online sales. They also have an outdoor garden that attracts birds, bees and butterflies.
While other small businesses have come and gone over the years, Flag Fables has continued to grow. Diamond said she has been able to evolve with her clientele and things took off when she started selling via flagfables.com.
Her online business soared and her in-store business also grew, but she wanted to give customers more reasons to come in to shop and began adding more decorative home products.
Flag Fables now offers licensed flags with matching mailbox covers, yard signs and door mats, which Diamond said are her best sellers, both online and in-store.
Cochran said while they continuously expand and change their products, they remain true – for the most part – to the heart of the business, which is decorative garden items.
“We pretty much keep with the gardening theme,” Cochran said, adding that they also have unique artwork and sell floral stems and create custom arrangements and wreaths.
Flag Fables also has numerous seasonal and holiday décor that will add a homey touch to the yard, front porch, mudroom and anywhere indoors.
The main focus of the store continues to be the product that started it all – decorative flags. In fact, Flag Fables has hundreds of styles to choose from and they update the inventory for the seasons. But one thing, Diamond said, makes Flag Fables different from other gift shops is that customers will find flags, with coordinating door mats and more, for their favorite holiday all year long.
“Flags are a popular gift, especially for Mother’s Day,” said Diamond. “And a lot of people may be looking for Christmas flags or other holiday flags for gifts off-season, and we have them.”
More than 300 flag designs are available both online and in the retail shop
Flag Fables can also be found each year at The Big E, which is a great way to expand their customer base. Diamond said that depending on the time of year there are six to 12 employees.
“We take orders on the website 24/7 and we also sell on Amazon, Etsy and Houzz,” said Diamond. “Because our building includes our warehouse, we can fill orders and offer online customer service while taking care of customers in the store.”
Diamond said she still has customers who order handmade flags and she loves that part of the business.
“The key to our success is we’re constantly changing,” said Diamond.
Flag Fables, located at the corner of Riverdale Street and Ashley Avenue, is open Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12p.m. to 4 p.m.