HAZEL GREEN & MADISON, Ala. – What would a 4th of July without fireworks be like? Some of those who love the tradition may, unfortunately, have to find out, as pandemic-induced supply chain issues continue to plague industries across the country, including the fireworks business.
“That’s it,” Fireland Fireworks owner Brian Land said as he gestured to his shelf that would normally be stacked with bottle rockets. Instead, 20 packs of bottle rockets, leftover from an order placed for New Year’s Eve supplies; just one item fireworks shop owners are missing while they wait for orders placed months ago.
Not only will some fan favorites be hard to find this 4th of July, but prices on what is available at shops like Fireland Fireworks will be about 30% higher too.
“When you see the price sticker on them, you’re going to be like ‘whoa that went up a lot’ but I just tell them there’s a shortage, you know, you can look it up, it’s nationwide it’s not just here,” Land said.
Land says the problem starts with the shipping containers filled with contents coming across seas. Each container holds anywhere from 800 to 1000 cases of fireworks. Land usually orders two containers to stock his store for the holiday.
“We are waiting for a container ourselves. It’ll be in Savannah, Georgia on July 2nd, but it still won’t make it through customs, it’ll be two weeks out before we even think about getting it,” he said.
He placed that order in December and says friends in the industry have even sold him some of their fireworks from containers that did come in time. Still, he estimates he’ll sell out of everything by the holiday or even the day before.
This is an experience owners of Gray Fireworks in Madison had last year.
“The day before 4th of July and the day of 4th of July, we sold completely out. We regrouped the day of 4th of July and by 6 o’clock we were completely empty again,” co-owner Marquis Gray said.
They bought a trailer and began placing orders early and often from one single distributor to stock it in addition to stocking their fireworks stand. They are also dealing with higher costs just like Land.
Now, they feel ready to sell this season, even while still waiting for some items from their distributor.
“It’s just a day-to-day basis, we have to call every day to see if possible they’ve been able to get something’s transported here,” co-owner Sherika Gray said. “If they get more shipments in, of course, we’re going to buy more because the demand is there for it,” Marquis Gray added.