Fireworks sales fizzle over New Year’sThe reintroduction of New Year’s fireworks didn’t bring explosive trade, but retailers said it’s a beginning. Business was slow but steady New Year’s Eve at the Liberty Fireworks store at Spruce and Burr streets in Mitchell.
By: By Ross Dolan, Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
MITCHELL, S.D. — The reintroduction of New Year’s fireworks didn’t bring explosive trade, but retailers said it’s a beginning.
Business was slow but steady New Year’s Eve at the Liberty Fireworks store at Spruce and Burr streets in Mitchell.
“We’re on the percentage track for sales we anticipated,” said Laurie Minchew, who was selling at the store on Saturday afternoon.
Fireworks had been legal only around Independence Day in South Dakota until this winter. Last year, the Legislature adopted a bill to allow the sale and use of fireworks between Dec. 28 and Jan. 1.
Minchew declined to say how much less business her shop was expecting compared with the more popular July 4 fireworks season, but the store did a much larger volume of business during the summer season. The store stocked a lesser inventory for the New Year’s holiday but tried to offer variety, she said.
Minchew said the shop is owned by her fiancée, Jeff Koster, who also owns a shop in Yankton.
In a new retail wrinkle, a laptop allowed customers to see a DVD preview of fireworks effects prior to buying.
John Aldrich, of Wessington Springs, who previously lived in Washington state, was stocking up Saturday with family friendly fireworks such as smoke bombs and sparklers.
“I’m used to the really big fireworks stands we had in Washington,” he said, describing himself as a fireworks junkie.
He was thankful the brief rain that blew through Friday night and Sunday morning lessened the wildfire danger.
“It’s a blessing,” Aldrich said.
The Aguilar-Saez family, originally from Puerto Rico and now living in Sioux Falls, also stopped by on their way to visit friends in Huron.
“They told me that fireworks are really common in their country for celebrating the New Year,” Minchew said.
Business was slower at All Star Fireworks on West Havens Avenue.
“We were ready for a much heavier volume,” owner Jennifer Starr said, “but we really didn’t know how much to allow for.”
The family company also sells wholesale fireworks, she said, and a dealer in Watertown also said sales were drastically lower than anticipated.
Some regular July 4 customers stopped and purchased their first New Year’s fireworks. Starr was philosophical about the results of the first New Year’s season. The dryness and high winds the area experienced were atypical weather variables that hurt the season, she said.
“We talked about how our fireworks would look against the snow in our advertising,” Starr said, “and this year we got no snow.”
Jennifer said her husband, Cameron “Cam” Starr, has been in the business since 1947.
“He will tell you that New Year’s sales depend a lot on weather.”
Jennifer Starr said worries about the dry weather and potential fire danger were a concern for her and customers, and this weekend’s high winds added another unexpected factor.
“We had gusts of more than 50 mph this weekend,” she said, “and you really can’t shoot off fireworks in that kind of wind.”
She said it will take time to develop a New Year’s fireworks clientele.
“It just hasn’t caught on yet,” Starr said, “and I think it’s going to take a couple of years. We’re hoping as people get used to it, it will be better.”
Ross Dolan is a reporter at
The Daily Republic of Mitchell, S.D., which is owned by Forum Communications Co.