The Flag Shop Nova Scotia Reaches Quarter Century Milestone

Join Us as We Take a Walk Down Memory Lane

The Flag Shop Nova Scotia recently celebrated a major milestone, marking an important day in its long and rewarding history. Join us as we take a look back – and what better place to start than the very beginning?

Debbie Visiting The Flag Shop Vancouver in the Early 1990s

As the first independently franchised shop, Debbie Hartlen bought The Flag Shop Nova Scotia in November of 1993. It began when Debbie’s husband, Bruce Hartlen, saw an ad in the newspaper. Debbie was intrigued by the concept, recognizing she could use both her love of sewing, and the management experience she’d developed through her nursing career. She said, “My career background is actually in Nursing – I’m an RN, and in those earliest days, I was doing both – part-time Nursing and running the shop!”

Original Press Release – 1993

Looking back, there are so many memories for Debbie and her family. The Flag Shop is a family business, and all of her kids, and even her granddaughter, Alyssa, have worked there over the years.

The Flag Shop Nova Scotia Family and Staff

As for major highlights, it was in the mid-90s when The Flag Shop Nova Scotia won its bid to supply the Navy with its first sets of minesweeper signal flags. The team cut and sewed an astonishing 2,400 flags for that first order, and since then, they have supplied military flags on many different projects.

Carole Aylard Sewing a Signal Flag – 2016

Debbie remembers the millennium flags project, for the Nova Scotia Art Museum, in 2000. This was a project whereby communities designed flags to present their visualization of their collective identity, and could participate by submitting their flag designs. Through this project, more than 50 flag designs were received. The Flag Shop Nova Scotia produced two of each of the flags, one of which was flown at the museum, with the second being displayed in the community.

Millennium Flags Project – 2000

Who can forget the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax? Debbie, her husband, Bruce, her sales manager, Carole, and her daughter, Stephanie installed 30 flagpoles at the Emera Oval skating rink, in the middle of a raging snowstorm!

Canada Winter Games – Emera Oval – 2011

In 2013, The Flag Shop Nova Scotia expanded, doubling its shop and production space from 900 to 1,800 square feet. Debbie said, “It’s been an amazing journey over the years, with many hills and valleys.” She added, “We are most proud of our reputation – we are known for being helpful, while providing excellent service, as well as the highest quality products. We work with our clients, meeting their deadlines and providing whatever they may need.” It’s no wonder at all that they’ve had a consistent increase in sales, year after year!

The Flag Shop Nova Scotia – 2017

More recently, just this past September, as part of a ship building project, The Flag Shop Nova Scotia supplied Irving Shipbuilding Inc with the bunting for the Harry DeWolfe Naming Ceremony. Debbie said, “These are just a few of the many projects we’ve had over the last 25 years. There were countless others and we’re proud to have been a part of all of them!”

Harry DeWolfe Naming Ceremony – October 2018

As far as future plans go, Debbie says she is looking forward to slowing down, all the while identifying where new options for growth might be, and how to further expand the business.

Nursing has continued to be a part of Debbie’s life. This has been facilitated by the wonderful people, such as Carole Aylard, who have supported her decision and stepped up to make sure the shop continued to run smoothly. Debbie received her Masters of Nursing in 2013, and is currently doing doctoral studies in Education, having started in 2016. She is set to graduate in October 2019. Wow! So, this is what “slowing down” looks like to Debbie!

Debbie Sewing a Nova Scotia Flag

Debbie also volunteers by directing a children’s choir at her church and contributing to various food projects, such as Feed Others of Dartmouth (F.O.O.D).

Congratulations to Debbie and her family on their 25th Anniversary, and thank you for being a valuable part of The Flag Shop family.

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