American Flags and Poles was founded in 1986 and has been owned by Jim and Sylvi Caporale for the past 18 years. While the Caporales have owned American Flags and Poles since 1995, their involvement with NFIB dates back to 1972 and the membership with Jim’s first convenience store the Tasty Freeze. They have personally witnessed the growth of small business; the first convenience store convention Jim attended had 3,000 owners and by the time he stopped going before purchasing the current business they had grown to over 12,000 owners in attendance.
The Caporales offer a great representation of the entrepreneurial spirit. In 1972, Jim took a pay cut from his job at the Lincoln-Mercury Dealer to buy their first business, the Tasty Freeze. Soon after, they purchased another convenience store and would later own a third store as well in the Marietta – West Virginia area. Besides he three convenience stores, the Caporales were the franchisees of Norel Services, a temporary help business. Jim, who possesses a degree in bio-chemistry, also had a business that made prepared sandwiches to microwave that they sold to other convenience stores, all prior to the current offerings offered in those stores today.
American Flags and Poles is truly a small, local business. The company employs 8 part-time workers, mostly young people. It offers them a great employment and training opportunity. American Flags and Poles supplies Marietta with both indoor and outdoor décor while also selling all types of flags whether it is patriotic, sports, or religious. They also specialize in installing and repairing in-ground flag poles, in some cases Jim is the only one with the expertise to do so in the surrounding counties. Other services offered by American Flags and Poles include customized orders and honorable disposal of old American flags.
With so much experience owning small businesses, the Caporales are acutely aware of the issues facing entrepreneurs today. When they owned the convenience stores, the main problem was staffing; finding qualified and reliable employees was always a challenge. Now with American Flags and Poles, they point to the lack of foot traffic and increased competition from online stores as a major issue. Online competition paired with the growth of the big box stores has hurt walk-by stores like theirs and decreased demand.
With an over 40 year relationship with NFIB, the Caporales clearly value what NFIB provides to small businesses and their owners: “NFIB is the only voice we have. We don’t have anybody else to speak for us. It is a way for small businesses to collectively bargain.”
They remain active with NFIB by encouraging other small-business owners to join NFIB and attending the local Area Action Council Meetings in Marietta. You can find out more about their store at http://www.americanflagsandmore.com/
Jim & Sylvi Caporale at their store in Marietta, Ohio.