Marcus Lemonis and his big, illegal flag

75

By Chuck Woodbury
EDITORIAL OPINION

If you are a regular reader of this newsletter, you know I am not Marcus Lemonis’ biggest fan. As the CEO of Camping World and the Good Sam Club he has turned the latter into a Camping World/Ganders Outdoor discount club, recently even removing the word RV from at least some of the club’s promotional messages. Today, boaters, anglers, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts are invited to join. No RV required. Actually, no interest in RVs required.

Lemonis has been in the news lately because he refuses to take down an illegal American flag at his Gander Outdoors store in Statesville, North Carolina. The city is fining his company $50 a day for every day the oversized flag continues to fly. The fine has already exceeded $12,000.

The flag is 40 by 80 feet, about twice the size of what’s permitted. “There’s no question that I violated that ordinance,” Lemonis has said.

When Gail and I were traveling full-time in 2017 and 2018, sometimes when pulling into a new town we’d see a huge flag ahead. “Oh, there’s a Camping World,” we’d say. Lemonis didn’t need to fly a Camping World flag. The American flag did the job: “Below this flag lies a place where you can buy RV accessories and an RV.” That’s what Lemonis’ Stars and Stripes really means. It is, I must say, a very creative marketing technique, but not, I suggest, a testament to Mr. Lemonis’ patriotism.

Veterans, especially, have come to Lemonis’ support in Statesville, praising him for standing up to the city, ignoring the fact that in flying the illegal flag Lemonis is knowingly breaking the law. Others, myself included, see it as yet another Lemonis PR ploy. He knows full well whatever he says publicly can be manipulated to his advantage in today’s content-hungry media. He’s one shrewd businessman.

But here’s what I think: If he’s really patriotic, then he will continue to fly a big flag, but reduce it to a legal size of 25 x 40 feet. In America, in theory at least, we follow the law. Lemonis, a celebrity to many as TV’s “The Profit,” is not above the law. Many people who support his actions can’t quite put the idea of “patriotism” and “law-abiding” in the same thought.

I think the question is this: Does the size of a flag someone flies illustrate the degree of his or her patriotism? If my flag is bigger than yours does it mean I am more patriotic than you?

Lemonis says over and over that the big flag will remain, no matter what. If the city wants to put him in jail, he says he’ll go. That makes for a nice sound bite but Lemonis knows damn well he can easily weasel out of that pledge.

For now, he’s managed to generate a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of free publicity. I believe the idea of showing his patriotism by breaking the law sets a terrible example.

So, I say, continue to fly a big flag, just reduce it to legal size.

If you would like to express your opinion on this with the Statesville community, write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper.

Your comments are welcome here, of course. Keep ’em civil or our Lord of Comments will zap ’em into distant cyberspace.

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75 Comments
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t hartman
1 year ago

Pull his business license. Then he might be willing to conform to the law. He is NOT a patriot, he is a ***. The only thing he understands is dollars, not patriotism.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
1 year ago
Reply to  t hartman

Your comment was bleeped, t hartman. We don’t condone name-calling on here. (Your comment somehow made it past our very strict filters, but not past me. 😉 )–Diane at RVtravel.com

Captain America
1 year ago

I say…Let’s get rid of all the Stupid laws!

kevin
10 months ago

I am sure their is a reason for this law such as blocking traffic or being a danger if the flag comes loose if he wants to change the law go through the proper means and change it. Don’t break the law that was their before the flag and pretend you are a patriot

Darrel
1 year ago

So much hatred of Marcus and also of our Bill of Rights.

First the hatred displayed towards our 2nd amendment rights, now against the freedom of speech to fly our nations flag……..

Billy Bob Thorton
1 year ago
Reply to  Darrel

Right on Darrel. I fully agree, fly it Marcus, fly it proud.

Roy
24 days ago
Reply to  Darrel

They aren’t saying that he can’t have a flag only that it can’t be over a certain size. There is no violation of constitutional rights here.

Billy Bob Thorton
1 year ago

Dear Marcus;

Don’t ever surrender. Too many in this country act like lemmings as I read this myself. Like I said before, take it all the way to the United States Supreme Court and settle it for all these anti first amendment types.

Oh, and for those who don’t like Camping World, don’t shop there, how hard is that people. Last time I checked, nobody was making you spend your money there, and get over it already.

Jim
1 year ago

First I’m not a fan of Camping World. That said it’s his land to do with as he pleases, as long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s rights. We have way too many laws and worrying about the size of a flag someone wants to fly is ludicrous. We all should know that we have different opinions and work to be more understanding of people that don’t see things as we think they should. Get a grip people and get along.

Noel Johnson
1 year ago

Marketing, and thats all.

TIM
1 year ago

I can’t judge his personal patriotic spirit but this issue has nothing to do with patriotism. It is only a marketing gimmick.

Gary
1 year ago

Growing up one county over, I think I can say on good authority the good people governing Statesville are no more or less patriotic than any small town in the mid south. As I understand, the size restriction was based on a safety concern flying the flag near a major highway. Whether that’s another well meaning, but dumb law is certainly up for discussion. What I do disagree with is Lemonis, in my opinion, painting himself as some type of super patriot and throwing Statesville under the bus. If he focused on the actual issue, about the only publicity he’d get would be a line item in the city council meeting agenda notice. Instead, he’s managed to get nationwide free advertising out of it. Awful hard to respect someone playing an issue like this.

Steven Douglass
1 year ago

Since when has the 1st amendment allowing free speech become illegal? Since Federal law takes precedence, the city ordinance is uncionstitutional. In the mean timewhere is the North Carolina assembla and senate… sitting their thumbs? I think Lemonis needs to give them a contribution to assure they are not asleep.
That said, I won’t do business with them again, after their incompetence cost me $150 for the lost wheel cover, that fell off after they checked my front tire.

Camping World Victim
1 year ago

I say its probably better for him to go to jail over the flag instead of going to jail for ripping off thousands of newbie first time buyers and all the scams he has be a part of for years and i hope he gets put under the jail as he is a *** *** ***.
[Sorry, Camping World Victim. I bleeped out your possibly accurate description of Mr. Lemonis. We don’t tolerate name-calling on here. —Diane at RVtravel.com]

Mike Sherman
1 year ago

CW should comply with the current law. There is nothing preventing CW and supporters from changing that law. Elected officials might make adjustments if enough citizens petition for the change. I vote for a change in the law.

Barbara Fleitman
1 year ago

Marcus you have my full support. Love your show and you have a big heart. Keep up the good work. Love ya

NonniJay
1 year ago

I completely agree with you. Fly the flag to show your patriotism, and follow the law.

Bill W.
1 year ago

25’x40′ is still a friggin’ big flag!

Gene Bjerke
1 year ago

In my experience, when I see a huge flag I don’t think “there’s a Camping World,” I think “there’s a used car dealer.”

Chuck
1 year ago

All of the flags I’ve seen at Camping World have been very large. Even you mention they are all large. Had the one in question been the ONLY LARGE FLAG I would I’ve agreed with you on this being a publicity stunt but large flags are flown at ALL his stores that I’ve visited. I resent any American flag being called ”illegal”. What he is doing with it may be illegal but THE FLAG IS NOT ILLEGAL.

So let me get.this straight. He can take it down and burn it and that is freedom of speech and legal, BUT he can’t legally fly it? Free to burn . Not free to fly. Something wrong here .

Greg T
1 year ago
Reply to  Chuck

Freedom of Speech is not the issue here. Freedom of Speech does NOT allow you to break the law. You still to this day cannot yell “Fire” in a theater. Doing so is breaking the law and for a very good reason and it has nothing to do with Freedom of Speech. And, burning the flag is the recommended method for destroying a damaged flag.
“The U.S. flag code states that the when the flag “is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, [it] should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” https://www.wikihow.com/Dispose-of-a-Damaged-American-Flag

Eddie
1 year ago
Reply to  Greg T

The semantics of your statement is incorrect. There is no law that PREVENTS you from yelling “fire” in a theater. There IS a law that PUNISHED you for doing it. People have come to think that law is somehow PROactive. Law is REactive. Law punishes. Law does not prevent. There is a law against murder, but that doesn’t mean you CAN’T murder. It means you will be punished if you do (and are caught. See: Illinois, Chicage.)

So the sentiment of what you said is correct. The semantics is not.

John Bilby
1 year ago
Reply to  Chuck

You are right Chuck. NO UNITED STATES IS illegal. You should ask a veteran if he or she think the American flag is illegal. I think not.

Steve
1 year ago

I agree Chuck. More “show-boating “ by good ole Marcus.

Cynthia Perrin
1 year ago

No such thing as an “illegal American Flag”!
The city stated that the Flag does not impede traffic, the Flag was flying long before someone took notice of the ‘law’, and I can’t remember anytime in recent history, except for 9-11, that the United States has been more patriotic…..I say LET OLE GLORY FLY HIGH! GOD Bless America! ??????

Peter
1 year ago

Why is it a problem to fly the American flag no matter what the size here in America ?????

Linda
1 year ago

Let’s just move on, folks, we aren’t going to be able to change anyone’s mind about this issue. Enough already.