Fenwick Hardware staff

Steve Lehukey, manager at Fenwick Hardware, right, is honoring Flag Day with a special offer designed to help people replace worn American flags, and keep replacing them as needed, as well as to respectfully retire old flags. Also pictured in this 2019 photo are, from left: Patsy Evans, Cindy Lightfoot, Fenwick Hardware owner Sebastian Munro, Trish Apgar and Linda Andre.

Fenwick Hardware is known around these parts as a purveyor of American flags.

When the store’s manager, Steven Lehukey, started noticing that some of the flags being flown in the community were a little rough looking, he decided to run a few ideas up the proverbial flagpole.

“I would see flags that were faded, ragged around the edges, or torn,” Lehukey said.

Originally, he thought of simply leaving a new flag on the porch of the owner of the dilapidated one, “but I thought that might insult people,” he said.

As spring rolled around, he considered tying some sort of flag program to the Memorial Day holiday. He said he felt that, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing such upheaval in the lives of many in the community, he wanted to do something that would honor the flag while providing an event for people to get out and enjoy the nicer weather — and each other.

“When spring starts to come in the air,” Lehukey said, and more people are outside, starting to pay attention to things like the state of their American flags, “I really wanted to resurrect some sort of flag program.”

What he meant was he wanted to help people who might not know how to properly dispose of their flags, as well as give them incentive to replace tattered flags with brand-new ones.

Instead of Memorial Day, however, Lehukey decided to start the program on the day that is actually designed to honor the American flag.

The Forever Flag program Fenwick Hardware is instituting encourages customers to bring their tattered flags to the store for disposal. In return, they will receive a 15-percent-off coupon for a new flag. The coupon — like the flag, Lehukey said — never expires.

Lehukey has asked his distributor to “double down” on flags this season, in preparation for what he believes will be a big year for new flags, due to the community feeling grateful for the start of return to normal life in the wake of the COVID-19 virus.

“The country is torn and they’re tired,” he said, adding that he hopes the program gives the community a bit of a lift after a trying late winter and spring.

He has formed a partnership with the Synepuxent American Legion Post 166 in Ocean City, Md, whereby Fenwick Hardware will serve as a collection point for old flags and the post will properly dispose of them. The post works with local Boy Scouts on its flag disposal and conducts a ceremony each year.

“I said, ‘Do you mind if I serve as a collection depot?” for tattered and faded flags, Lehukey said. “They said, ‘Absolutely,’” and the partnership was born.

Fenwick Hardware will kick off its Forever Flag program on Flag Day, Sunday, June 14, with an all-American cookout for customers. In addition to bringing their less-than-beautiful flags to the store for proper disposal, they can enjoy a free hot dog, chips and soda, he said.

“I just wanted to bring attention to Flag Day,” he said. “The event is not a big party,” he emphasized — because it’s early still early in the COVID-19 recovery and not the time for large gatherings. “I just wanted to bring a little attention to the flag on that weekend.

Lehukey added that the flag discount can also be used by those who are buying their first flag and don’t have one to “retire” — and when that one needs replacing, they can use it again. That’s the idea behind the “Forever Flag” program.

For more information on the Forever Flag program, call Fenwick Hardware at (302) 539-3915.

Staff Reporter

Kerin majored in journalism at Ohio University and has worked as an editor and reporter for monthly, daily and weekly publications in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Delaware since 1983. A native of Baltimore, Md., she has lived in Ocean View since 1996.