If you're a Texan trying to make it in the fireworks business, take some cues from the products themselves: You've got to get off the ground and blow up in short order.
That's because there are just a few narrow windows on the calendar when retailers in Texas are allowed to sell fireworks. And we're right in the middle of one of those open windows – June 24 through Independence Day.
John Palmer, the owner of Palmer Fireworks, which has stands in Dallas, Ferris and Concan, has been in the business for 47 years. At age seven, he began helping out at his stepfather's stand.
“Back then, the most expensive item was $4-5 a piece, so you had to sell a massive quantity to make any money at all,” Palmer says.
But even though fireworks can retail for hundreds and even thousands of dollars today, Palmer says you still need to sell large amounts to turn a profit. That’s because fireworks are bought from Chinese manufacturers and the cost of shipping is often greater than the merchandise itself. Wholesale retailers like Palmer also pay for their fireworks to be inspected by the U.S. government, and Palmer says this adds $0.50 to each box of imported merchandise.
“Fireworks these days are safe,” he says. “If they are from a legal, reputable manufacturer in China, they are good quality fireworks.”
Palmer says that demand for fireworks is greater than ever. One of his most popular items is a “cake,” a multi-shot firework that he describes as “a grand finale kind of deal.”
His stand in Dallas is on a 37-acre pecan orchard, and he lets people shoot fireworks on the land. He says people show up early on the morning of July 4 and make a day out of it so they can get a good spot.
“I’ve been calling it a big-time Fourth of July firework party,” Palmer says.
Written by Molly Smith.