Kansas City fireworks stands face shortages, raising prices
Matt Sprouse usually leads four Big Matt’s fireworks is located in the Kansas City area. This year he’s running two – one at Lee’s Summit and one in Blue Springs.
He knew at the start of the season that supply shortages meant it would be more difficult to stock four slots. Even with half the space to fill, it may have to go out of business on July 4.
“Normally I always have enough inventory to stay open on the 5th day at my location in Blue Springs,” Sprouse said. “I predict that I will probably sell, and it will be the night of the 4th someday.”
Like many other industries, fireworks are facing a shortage nationwide this year. Shipping and production issues limited selections and led to higher prices. And in Missouri and Kansas, two of the largest fireworks buying states in the country, demand exceeds limited supply.
Gene McClung, owner of Big Mac fireworks, ordered 10 containers of fireworks ahead of the season. By the time he was ready to open his tent, he had only received three. He supplemented what was lacking through wholesalers, but he is still short of demand.
“It’s becoming impossible to keep up with the pace right now,” he said.
Large items like artillery shells and assortment packs are already missing in many stalls. Small items in high demand, like parachutes, Roman candles, and fountain smoke bombs, can also be hard to find.
“My opinion is that if people wait until the 4th as they usually do, a lot of people will be disappointed with the selection they have,” Sprouse said.
Many buyers started stocking up early, as word of the shortage spread, Sprouse said. He estimated his first business was up 30% from a year ago.
Jami Kay, owner of KC fireworks, said the shortage is due at least in part to people’s desire to go out and party.
“Business is going well, it’s booming,” Kay said. “People buy early, and they buy big orders. “
Demand is expected to continue through the weekend.
It was the same story last year, despite the pandemic. On July 4, 2020, the queue of Save-U-More fireworks was so long that it wrapped around the building, with people waiting inside for two hours or more.
A similar scene unfolded across the country: As many public celebrations were canceled, people bought more fireworks than ever before. It’s unclear if this year will break any records, but Save-U-More co-owner Teri Eickhoff expects to see something similar.
“We’ve been busier, but we haven’t seen the crowds yet,” Eickhoff said. “We still hear that a lot of people are waiting to come this weekend because they only get paid today. . . I still think we’re going to be extremely busy.
The shortage means buyers will likely pay a higher price as well. Specific increases depend on store and product, but booth owners said most items increased by 20-25%. Some stalls ate up some of the cost, even though they had to make other concessions, like McClung who suspended discounts for customers paying in cash.
“It’s almost like going out and buying a car,” Sprouse said. “Be ready for that first moment of sticker shock.”
For those who haven’t yet bought their fireworks display for the year, the advice was unanimous: start shopping as soon as possible.
“If you’re planning on shopping this weekend, you’ve probably waited too long,” McClung said.
It doesn’t mean that you won’t stand a chance if you haven’t bought yet. Many stalls will still have at least a few fireworks available on Sunday; they will just be much more limited.
“I don’t mean to say that they can’t come and shoot fireworks for their family celebrations; they go. They can walk away with a good fireworks display, ”said Kay. “But they won’t necessarily get the variety of items that would be available if they came earlier.”