While many businesses have suffered during the coronavirus pandemic, local fireworks stores saw a surge in sales this year over the Independence Day holiday.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” said co-owner of Furious Fireworks Michael Albertson.
According to Albertson, the store made thousands of dollars more this year compared to last, and he even had to order more fireworks the week before July 4 to keep from selling out.
Albertson said there were many factors that may have impacted fireworks sales, including the store’s new location at 3728 S. Western Ave. in Marion.
“A Saturday Fourth of July is always going to be better than a weekday, that’s just how it is every six years,” he said. “When you get your Saturday Fourth, it’s going to be your best year.”
In addition to the holiday falling on a Saturday, Albertson said restrictions on restaurants and entertainment venues have caused people to become bored.
“This is something fun that they can do,” he said.
Although locals might experience some limitations due to COVID-19 restrictions, Albertson said many people in Indiana do not “care” about COVID.
“We had a few thousand people walk through this door and I had maybe 50 wear masks,” he said. “Nobody cares about COVID around here. It’s a very different area than Indianapolis (where) everyone wears a mask.”
The recent nationwide protests and removal of Confederate statues could also have had an impact on fireworks sales, Albertson said.
“A lot of people feel like America and what it stands for is being trampled on,” he said. “I think a lot of people who really like America and think there is good reason to celebrate it (said,) ‘By golly, I’m going to celebrate it and buy some fireworks.’”
Ron Vielee, the owner of Ron’s Fireworks located at 1421 W. 10th St. in Marion, said his sales this year went “unseasonably well.”
Vielee agreed that COVID-19 restrictions influenced sales.
“I think that people being cooped up played a part in it,” he said. “This was something that they could actually do.”
Aerial fireworks, similar to those used in popular fireworks displays, were top sellers in Vielee’s shop this year, he said.
Vielee said his father started the store in Marion 50 years ago, when Vielee was a boy.
“I think he was feeding me gunpowder,” he laughed. “Fireworks dust is in my bloodstream.”
Selling fireworks in Marion is therapeutic for Vielee, he said.
“It’s fun for me. To be honest with you, for me, it’s a hobby. I enjoy it,” he said. “The people. People come in here, they leave happy.”
For those who missed the fireworks displays in Marion and Gas City, a patriotic display of fireworks will take place at dusk at Playacres Park in Fairmount on July 11.