Common Thread and The Flag Shop team up to tackle social and environmental ills

If you have been to The Flag Shop Vancouver office on Powell and seen the majestic sweep of our production facility (seriously, it’s glorious; we love it), you know we have quite a bit of room. Rather than putting in a foosball table or a hot tub, we have given some of that space over to the Common Thread Cooperative so that they have a place to set up their sewing equipment which they use for their Banners-to-Bags program among other sewing projects they take on.

The Flag Shop founded the “Banner to Bags” program in the early 1990s, and worked with Coast Mental Health to develop their program Sewing with Heart, where individuals are trained in sewing as a means to re-enter the workforce. In 2009, Susan and Melanie Conn along with Coast Mental Health, Devco, the Women’s Economic Council and EMBERS founded Common Thread which provides job skills to individuals who thrive in a more flexible workplace environment by training them to sew used street banners into reusable bags. We allocate a portion of our production facilities to Common Thread at no charge, and we encourage our customers to have Common Thread “repurpose” their street banners into bags, once their banners are no longer needed.

The United Nations has declared 2012 to be the International Year of Cooperatives. Both The Flag Shop and Common Thread will be participating. Common Thread is offering a 10% discount on tote bag orders if you order 2,000 bags before August 15th. Contact Melanie Conn at 604-736-0935 or find out more on Common Thread’s site at

Susan has recently joined the Co-op’s board of directors where she acts as Secretary-Treasurer. The other two directors are Melanie Conn (President) from Devco Cooperative Training and Development and Jenette MacArthur (Vice-President) from The Kettle Friendship Society. The board provides overall direction to Common Thread as well as many kinds of support in the operation of the business.

The Flag Shop is working on its own exciting project for IYC 2012 so stay tuned to find out more about our participation!

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