The Bowery’s flag is ‘decoration not a declaration’

There’s no talk of the flag coming down at The Bowery, a long-time oceanfront bar in Myrtle Beach.

Owner Victor Shamah said at The Bowery, the flag is not a source of controversy, “at all.”

“It’s a decoration not a declaration,” he said.

A logo for The Bowery looks very similar to a Confederate flag, but Shamah made a point of saying the bar’s merchandise includes eight stars as opposed to the 13 seen on the flag. The bar’s trademark is that it is the “eighth wonder of the world.”

“For me, I’m just a Brooklyn boy and a business man,” said Shamah, who purchased the 71 year-old bar about 30 years ago. “I’m probably one of the few people in the South with no attachment to the flag, other than that it rang my register for the last 30 years.”

This week, Gov. Nikki Haley and others have called for the removal of the Confederate flag on the State House grounds in the wake of the massacre at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church last week, where nine people, including state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, D-Jasper, were killed by a 21-year-old white supremacist.

Many retailers, including Wal-Mart and Sears, said this week they would no longer sell items with the Confederate flag.

Shamah said the bar has begun to offer a variety of items that don’t have a flag on it and there aren’t a lot of flags on display inside The Bowery.

“Over the last 15 years we’ve come up with so many different designs without the flag on it,” he said. “Now that the publicity is centered around the Confederate flag, the main one folks are probably going to buy is the red shirt with the flag on the back.”

He also mentioned that having the flag prominently displayed on his merchandise hasn’t seemed to have been a turnoff for black customers.

“In the past four to five years, the number of black customers has quadrupled,” he said. “It’s not a redneck bar like people think.”

Shamah did weigh in on flying the flag at the State House in Columbia.

“The truth is, they probably should take it down from the State House,” he said. “That’s a public building that represents all the citizens of South Carolina. It’s not a private business like us.”

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or on Twitter @TSN_mprabhu.