Business booming for fireworks as more 4th of July celebrations cancel due to COVID-19

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HUDSON, Ohio (WJW) — The pandemic has fizzled out public fireworks shows across the country, but Roberto Sorgi, owner of American Fireworks Company in Hudson, says retail sales are booming.

“Business is crazy right now. A lot of people are stuck at home with nothing to do and so they’re bringing the fireworks show with them,” he said.

“Since two days ago there’s a line starting at 1, 2, 3 o’clock. Retail sales might be up as much as 80% [from last year],” he said.

And it’s not just around the holidays, Sorgi says as people look for things to do they’ve seen steady business every day since Memorial Day weekend. 

At the same time, they’re seeing a decline in public displays. 

“They could be off by 50% if not a little bit more just depending on what comes,” he said.

Inventory was impacted, Sorgi says, when factories in China closed earlier this year. 

“Our supply chain was off 4 to 5 month leading into obviously the Americans busiest time for fireworks,” said Sorgi.

His company usually sits on a two year supply, but he knows retailers with smaller inventories are struggling. He recommends people call ahead to see what’s in stock and come in the mornings.

The retail rise comes as Ohio’s Senate prepares for hearings on H.B. 253 that passed overwhelmingly in the House last month and would allow the discharge of consumer fireworks instead of having to transport them out of state within 48 hours.

“It ensures that Ohioans, number one, do not have to be dishonest when they purchase fireworks,” said Democratic State Rep. Michael O’Brien from Warren who introduced the bill.

If passed, Ohio would join the 46 states and D.C. that allow some or all types of consumer-grade fireworks to be discharged according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.

“It gives complete local control. Local governments can restrict the date and the time over the use of fireworks,” said O’Brien.

The bill would create a Fire Code Rule Recommendation Committee formed of fire safety professionals, one member of the Prevention of Blindness chapter in Ohio and one member of the Ohio Chapter of pediatrics to help establish safety rules that would need to be followed by retailers and consumers.

It would also tack on a 4% fee on gross sales that would cover additional firefighter training.

“You’ll definitely see an uptick right away. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it,” said Sorgi. And that may be so, but what the industry is seeing now he says, is unprecedented. “This is something our industry on the retail level will never see again.”

While O’Brien says he sees support in the Senate, Governor DeWine has publicly said he is not in favor due to safety reasons.

American Fireworks Company says they’ve seen several first-time buyers come in and provide safety information at the time of purchase.

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