Vendors dealing with fewer fireworks supplies

By Mike Genet
The Examiner

Same fireworks as usual, just not as much. 

As non-profit organizations started selling fireworks Wednesday in Independence, some vendors said they haven’t been able to procure their usual inventories due to supply shortages caused by shipping delays. 

So, those who usually wait until July 3 or the morning of July 4 to buy fireworks might be out of luck or have slimmer pickings, vendors caution. 

“Our supplier’s done a great job, but it is what it is,” said Tim Crouch at the Hillcrest Ministries tent at Noland Fashion Square on U.S. 40. “People that wait until July 3 or 4 might as well not try.” 

“Our assortment is really good; I bought anything he had,” Crouch added. “I used to go back all the time (for more supplies), but I can’t do it. I don’t know what I can and can’t get more of.” 

Volunteers stock the tent and help some of the first-day shoppers Wednesday at the Urban Life Ministries tent at 23rd Street and Sterling Avenue in Independence.

Fire officials also stress basic safety measures for shooting off fireworks: one at a time, not combined, on flat surfaces not near buildings, don’t hover over lit ones and have a hose and water handy for extinguishing. 

“We have probably one of the larger supplies (in the area), but we’re down,” said Ray Stewart of Grace and Truth Baptist Church, who guides the Urban Life Ministries tent in the Price Chopper parking lot at 23rd Street and Sterling Avenue. “From what we hear, that’s all over. 

“We probably have the same variety,” he said, “but less of it.” 

Joyce Noah, who with her family runs the tent this year at American Legion Post 21 on U.S. 40, after several years of selling in Lake Winnebago on Missouri 291, said she’s heard from all around to tell people, “If you want to shop, shop early.” 

Her inventory, she said, is about 80 percent of the norm. 

The big reason for small supplies, from what vendors understand: pandemic-related workforce delays have left overseas shipments of fireworks waiting to be unloaded and distributed from the coasts. 

In Blue Springs, fireworks sales can’t begin until next Thursday. In most cities, residents can’t shoot them off until at least that same day. 

The fireworks shortage comes after high sales last year, when many municipalities canceled their normal fireworks shows amid the pandemic. Some, such as Blue Springs and Sugar Creek, have brought them back this year, but vendors think demand will again be strong. 

“More than normal,” Stewart said of last year’s sales, “but like anything else, pricing has gone up this year I think demand will be as high.” 

Crouch said prices are up 20 to 25 percent from last year, which he called his “best year ever.” Both and he and Noah said they had the rare chance last year to pack up their tent, with sales complete, and watch the fireworks themselves. 

Whereas she normally might return $3,000 to $4,000 worth of fireworks, Noah said. “Last year we essentially sold out and I only took $500 back.”  

Fire officials also stress basic safety measures for shooting off fireworks: one at a time, not combined, on flat surfaces not near buildings, don’t hover over lit ones and have a hose and water handy for extinguishing.