Fireworks stands hopeful for a boom in business this year

Jul 4, 2022, 5:16 AM
Boom City Fireworks 
(KIRO Newsradio)...
Boom City Fireworks (KIRO Newsradio)
(KIRO Newsradio)

The Friday before the Fourth of July long weekend has fireworks retailers hopeful for a “boom” in business.

And nowhere is this perhaps more evident than at the Northwest’s biggest fireworks marketplace. Boom City Fireworks on the Tulalip Reservation encompasses more than 120 stands, all run by members of the Tulalip Tribe.

“It’s starting to pick up, we opened up the 22nd and we’ve had a steady stream of people coming in … everybody has been coming in after work,” said Marvin Velazquez, who has owned Blues Brothers fireworks stand for 27 years.

King County bans fireworks in unincorporated areas for first time

Based on advertising calculations, Velazquez said Boom City expects a million visitors between now and the Fourth of July.

“The parking lot is going to be full, it will be overflowing onto the streets. It will be quite the festival,” he said.

This makes for an optimistic outlook following the two pandemic years. Rudy Madrigal, owner of Wally World fireworks stand, said things were different the past couple of Fourths of July, when restrictions were in place.

“I think a lot more people are feeling more comfortable [this year] and as things really open up, it’s going to get a lot better,” Madrigal said.

Speaking from his business, Stand 89 Win Win Win, Kaiser Fryberg-Jones agreed, but offered a second reason for the boost in sales this year.

“I think the pandemic dying down had something to do with it, but I also think weather-wise, people are a little more comfortable with what is going on,” he said.

Last year, the Fourth of July fell just after the record heat dome that saw Western Washington near 110 degrees. This year, however, it falls after a cool, wet spring in which the Northwest broke records for rainfall and cold temperatures. Madrigal and Fryberg-Jones believe this will have people less nervous about lighting off fireworks.

“I think it’s going to be a good one. This weather is perfect. Not too dry — last year, we went through a heat wave, we were like 100 degrees before Boom City even opened,” Madrigal said. “Now it’s raining, but it’s only raining at morning or raining at night, so it’s perfect.”

Inflation and record gas prices are another story. Some of Boom City’s small business owners have been forced to raise their prices due to inflation, and they have seen customers watching their pocketbooks this year.

However, Fryberg-Jones believes the diehard firework fans will always set aside a little extra for their favorite holiday — even if it is less than other years.

“Maybe it’s keeping some people from coming down, but I think anybody who would normally come and get fireworks is going to get fireworks this year,” he said. “It’s just something that they really want to go out and get, something that they really want to do, so they put a budget aside for it.”

Velazquez pointed out that staying home and lighting off fireworks may be a cheaper alternative for people than driving across the state for a weekend trip.

“Knowing that this may be one of the final gatherings before the hot summer and all the inflation prices, they’ll splurge a little bit like Christmas, and they’ll prepare to hunker down over the summer months,” he predicted.

Customers at Boom City who spoke with KIRO Newsradio said that they were doing just that.

“I was planning on spending a pretty penny,” said Snohomish resident Alyssa Claiborne, her arms full of firework cakes and sparklers. “I knew it was going to be more this year, but I work — so it’s fine.”

While money may not be a limiting factor for some firework fans this year, the laws will be. For the first time, the sale and use of fireworks will be banned in unincorporated King County. Most other cities in the county — and many cities throughout the rest of the Puget Sound area — have banned fireworks as well.

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Fireworks stands hopeful for a boom in business this year