Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana


July 3, 2011

Local fireworks vendors aspire with ambition


Also pushing their prices around Kokomo are Mr. Fireworks, USA Fireworks, Freebies Fireworks and TNT Fireworks.

Brian Hudson, owner of Mr. Fireworks tucked behind a Marathon gas station on U.S. 31, said he is able to take a calmer, more consistent approach to his business because it operates all year and has been there for about 40 years.

“We’ve got the lion’s share of the market,” he said.

As of last week, sales for the store, which also has locations on Dixon Road and LaFountain Street, had been “fantastic,” he said.

The store tries to keep prices constant throughout the year to compete with the pop-up fireworks stores.

“People get pretty smart when you’re trying to take advantage and run crazy deals for them,” he said.

Sara Pellot, manager at Freebies Fireworks in Southway Plaza on U.S. 31, shunned the methods some of her competitors used.

“I’m just not like that,” she said.

Pellot, like Wampler and Hudson, noted that their companies are family-operated.

All the stores had employees who were quick to greet their customers and find products that they would enjoy. Discussions inevitably led to how to properly light them, with an emphasis on doing so safely.

“Cake products,” which are fireworks that shoot off multiple artillery shells, have become top sellers over the last five years.

Marvin Boswell, manager of USA Fireworks at the corner of U.S. 31 and Markland Avenue, said “cake” fireworks sales burst in 2006, when Indiana eased its regulations on them.

The type of firework remains a top seller, but they have come down as people have resumed buying “the main staples of life,” such as bottle rockets, Roman candles and sparklers.

Sales have remained steady through the recession, vendors said.

“A lot of people were laid off,” Boswell said, “but they were still receiving 95 percent of their pay, and they were looking for some entertainment.”

Wampler, the owner of Best Price Fireworks, said high gas prices have also helped over the last few years.

“A lot of people say, ‘Let’s just go buy some fireworks and shoot them off at the house,’” he said.

• Daniel Human is the Kokomo

Tribune business reporter. He can be reached at 765-454-8570 or at daniel.human@kokomotribune.com.

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