Fireworks stands’ profits burn out under ban
Wildfires raging across Colorado may be costing the state and federal governments millions of dollars, but the resulting statewide ban is also hitting in the pocketbooks local families and organizations who rely on Fourth of July fireworks sales for their income.
Timi Meyer, owner of Fireworks City, 255 W. Grand Ave, told The Daily Sentinel earlier this week the fireworks ban will cut her annual income in half. Since the Grand Junction City Council signed off Friday on a prohibition on fireworks sales in the city, her profits will be even less than that.
“The fireworks business has been a source of our livelihood for the last 35 years. Right now I’m unemployed, and it makes a huge impact on my life,” Meyer said. “I will have no money this year, I will have nothing extra. We’ll get by on bare bones.”
Meyer said in a typical year, she starts ordering and setting up stock mid-May, and from mid-June to the Fourth of July, she works 12 to 16 hours a day. This year she held off on ordering any new stock because of a possible ban. And whereas the shop usually is filled with fireworks, this year only one wall of the shop holds any goods.
“This is nothing,” Meyer said of the wall of shelves. “I’m not expecting any sales.”
In any other year, she said, Fireworks City currently would be selling $2,000 to $3,000 worth of fireworks daily. On Thursday, she said she sold one item — a $1 smoke bomb a customer wanted to disperse mosquitoes on his property.
Meyer said while the dual bans will create a significant financial hardship on her, she said it would be “sickening” if fireworks she sold ultimately sparked a fire, noting that fireworks were believed to have started a small fire in Glenwood Springs earlier this week.
“Anybody with kids runs a risk of the kids messing with the fireworks, no matter how hard you try to hide them or counsel (the kids),” she said.
Paul Labig, associate pastor at Church on the Rock, said after hearing about the fire ban, he decided against opening the three firework stands the church youth group usually runs.
“It would be challenging for people not to light them off,” Labig said. “Once there’s a fire ban in place, typically sales are down 75 percent. It’s a lot of work to be manning booths for so little sales.”
Funds from the youth group’s fireworks stands usually help send the 20 students to a national Fine Arts youth conference in Louisville, Ky., but students won’t attend the conference this year because of the significant budget cut. Labig said he hopes fundraisers in the fall will compensate for this summer’s closed booths.
Grand Junction Fire Department spokesman Mike Page said that while the department has issued and received payment for around 30 firework stand permits, very few of the stands have actually called for an inspection that’s mandatory before they open for business.