Drought, laws cause less fireworks shops to open

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – There’s usually a fireworks shop on nearly every corner this time of year, but there seem to be fewer of them opening up. Fireworks store owners have their speculations as to why the small “ma and pa shops” aren’t popping up like they used to in years past.

Ron Miller is a salesman at Freebies Fireworks. He said he’s spoken with customers who love fireworks and have thought about opening up their own shops. After speaking to Miller, customers soon realize there’s much more involved in operating a firework shop for a few months out the year.

“Basically, if someone wanted to open up a shop, a thousand dollars to get your permit and you can only hold 500 pounds of fireworks in your business, no matter how big your business is,” said Miller.

The law is to require 500 pounds inside a store was set back in 2005. Freebies are not affected by this change in law because it’s grandfathered in for the previous law allowing 3,000 pounds in one store. That same law caused the sales tax on fireworks to increase. It went from seven percent to 12 percent, with the extra five percent going to firefighter safety training.

“[It] hits the consumer and slows down sales,” Miller said.

Paul Hurley, a salesman with Pyromaniac Fireworks, claims the number one reason for the lack of firework stores opening up is because of the drought of 2012.

“A lot of people lost a lot of money,” he said. “Now there’s a risk associated, with what was taken for granted now has a risk involved with it.”

Hurley mentioned there’s an added layer of difficulty for new shops because of the already-saturated market. He said since working with Pyromaniac, he sees customers who shop at firework stores they’re familiar with.

Pricing is also another factor. Hurley and Miller said customers are willing to travel around the city seeking better deals on fireworks.

Fireworks Laws

Per the City of Fort Wayne, the following provisions apply to setting off Fireworks in the city. See the city’s website for more information on state and city law as it pertains to fireworks. 

  • Fireworks may be used only on the user’s property, on the property of someone who has consented to the use of fireworks, or at a special discharge location. (Note: A special discharge location is a place designated by the State Fire Marshal for the discharge of consumer fireworks).
  • Fireworks can be purchased only by adults 18 years of age or older. Children under 18 may only use fireworks when an adult is present.
  • Fireworks may be used only between 5:00 p.m. two hours after dusk (approximately 11:00 p.m.) from June 29-July 3 and again from July 5-9. On the day before Memorial Day, Memorial Day,
  • July 4th, the day before Labor Day and Labor Day, the hours are extended from 10 a.m. until midnight.
  • For New Year’s Eve, fireworks may be used from 10:00 a.m. Dec. 31 until 1:00 a.m., Jan. 1.
  • Penalties for violating the fireworks law can range from a Class A misdemeanor up to a Class C felony in the case of the reckless or intentional use of fireworks that results in a person’s death.
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