Consumer fireworks sales have skyrocketed nationwide this year with the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling Fourth of July public fireworks displays across the country and locally. Companies selling fireworks in Reedsburg and the surrounding areas are seeing the same trend.
R and M Enterprises President Michael Callaway said it will be a record breaking season for the company this year with strong sales and demand for fireworks. R and M Enterprises owns several sites around Wisconsin, like Snap Fireworks and Cheapo Depot. Snap Fireworks has temporary locations in Reedsburg and New Lisbon as well as others in Hager City, Webster and Marshfield, according to its website.
“It’s been a booming season,” Callaway said. “Retail, wholesale there’s just people that can’t get fireworks. Fireworks seem to be selling out all over the country. Wholesale (and) retail there’s retailers screaming for product calling. It’s been a crazy year.”
The American Pyrotechnics Association is also forecasting a record breaking year in consumer fireworks sales, according to a press release on the association’s website.
One of the reasons Callaway attributes the strong spike in demand is the coronavirus pandemic, with more people staying home the last two to three months and wanting to let off some steam after being cooped up for so long or also as a form of entertainment while at home and avoiding crowds. The holiday also falls on a Saturday this year.
He also attributes the increase in demand for consumer fireworks to many Independence Day celebrations ending up cancelled or postponed due to health and safety concerns with the virus. Both Reedsburg and La Valle have cancelled their fireworks for this year. Other cities, like Portage and Baraboo, have adapted their fireworks to go off in city limits and restrict crowd gathering.
“They don’t have anything else to do, there is no big celebrations, they aren’t getting together at the local pubs; they basically are staying home now and celebrating at home,” Callaway said. “They are becoming more of a family orientated, neighborly group and they are finding the fireworks is something that they entertain themselves without going into the big crowds.”
Callaway believes people are looking to do more home shows with the fireworks they purchase.
Charlie Kavoukjian, who is in charge of the Snap Fireworks stand in Reedsburg, said he’s seeing sales increase from last year at the stand alone. He said last year’s first week of sales were made in one day of being in its new location on Main Street and June 27 was the day sales really took off, he said.
“That was our best day yet so far,” he said. He expecting additional people to visit the Reedsburg location throughout the week as the holiday gets closer to purchase fireworks.
Kavoukjian said people from all over the area are stopping by to purchase fireworks from Ho-Chunk, Wisconsin Dells, Baraboo and also those who live in the area outside of city limits such as lake houses and farms.
While sales are strong at the retail and wholesale level, Callaway said all its locations, including the ones in Reedsburg and New Lisbon, will remain stocked with fireworks because of a strong year and a half’s worth of inventory built up over the years. However, he said the demand has significantly reduced that inventory.
“That inventory is basically gone,” he said. “Luckily, if I didn’t have that standing inventory we would be hurting for inventory.”
Kavoukjian said the Reedsburg stand received the last shipment of fireworks for the season June 29.
Callaway and Kavoukjian encourage those looking to purchase fireworks to get to store locations early in the week prior to the holiday to receive the best selection and service. The Reedsburg location is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 4.
The Reedsburg Police Department has seen a very small increase in firework complaints for the month of June. Police Chief Patrick Cummings said in a June 29 email the police department last month received eight firework complaints compared to five last year during the same time period. The amount of calls regarding fireworks usually start to increase around July 1, he said.
Cummings encouraged those who are using fireworks to use the devices safely and said the police department will respond to any complaints to investigate a potential violation of state law or city ordinance. He said state law allows for sale, possession and use of certain devices without a permit, such as sparkles not exceeding 36 inches in length, stationary cones and toy snakes. Reedsburg’s ordinance follows state law for firework use.
Any fireworks that explodes or leaves the ground requires a permit, he said.
“A common rule of thumb is if the device explodes or leaves the ground it is probably illegal,” Cummings said.
Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.
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