The new year could be coming in with a bang as some East Texans celebrate at home with fireworks and local retailers site strong sales in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on supply in the region.
Co-owners of Fantastic Fireworks, Ed Baus and Miles Darby, said there are several variables with this season that have affected sales from July 4th to New Year’s Day.
“It’s similar to the July 4th customer flow and sentiment,” Darby said. “Sales are strong … I think people are looking at more activities to do around home and a lot of people are not getting out like they normally would.”
Darby said he is seeing more people decide to buy fireworks to celebrate this year and stay home since big parties are not really an option with COVID-19.
Jan Lilly works at the Fantastic Fireworks stand at 5651 U.S. 259 in Longview and has worked with the company for 20 years. She said customers are telling her that they will be celebrating on their own, socially distanced.
Reloadables and novelties are strong sellers this year along with multi-shot options, she said.
“I’ve been told there’s a lot of places that aren’t open due to shipping issues and that they couldn’t get their hands on things,” Lilly said of limited fireworks supplies.
Due to the increased demand ahead of July 4th — likely linked to the pandemic — fireworks were harder to come by this season.
“Because sales were strong and unanticipated in July, that caught a lot of suppliers and distributors off guard,” Darby said. “My advice to customers is to get out early and get selections and purchases made because there may not be a whole lot left at the end of the year.”
Darby said he thinks the supply challenge could continue into 2021 as distributors play catch up.
Baus said fireworks are a big deal in East Texas, and the business helps the local economy. Fantastic Fireworks operates in 10 locations across East Texas, including Longview, Tyler and Marshall.
But residents should pay attention to where they live to be sure setting off the fireworks is legal.
“The Longview Fire Marshal’s Office would like to remind everyone that it is against the fire code to pop, shoot, or light any type of fireworks inside the incorporated city limits,” Fire Marshal Kevin May said. “Fines not to exceed two thousand dollars may be issued if caught.”
“We hope everyone has a safe and happy new year,” May said.
Since there may be people who are new to fireworks purchasing this year, Darby urges people to follow the proper instructions and be safe.
“Have a water supply or something to suppress fire nearby,” Darby said. “Don’t hold the fireworks in your hand. Most are designed to be set off on the ground. We have safety instructions at each of our locations.”
Gregg County is not under a burn ban at this time, according to the county website.
“Please remember that fireworks should only be used by children when they are accompanied by a responsible adult not under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” May said. “A person may be held liable for damages to the property of others if a fire starts due to the use of fireworks.”
Recent rains have provided ground moisture, according to the National Weather Service.
“Go out and be safe and celebrate the end of 2020 which, I think, we’re all happy is coming to an end,” Darby said.