Fireworks sales ‘booming’ as pandemic cancels public displays
BELLAIRE — Fireworks sales this holiday season were “booming” for area retailers with fewer community fireworks displays being held around the Upper Ohio Valley during the Fourth of July weekend due to COVID-19.
Ohio Fireworks Supervisor Jessica Stephens said fireworks sales were more brisk than in past years at the family-owned business located on High Ridge Road in Bellaire. Stephens said while it seems like more big-box type stores are carrying fireworks, her family’s multigenerational business was busier than normal this year.
“We opened a month later than normal … but we’ve been pretty steady since we opened,” Stephens explained.
She said it got even busier the first week of July during the lead-up to Independence Day.
“I’ve had a lot of customers come and say they wanted to buy their own stuff because there’s not going to be big (public) displays,” she said as several customers made their way through the check-out area.
Due to the pandemic, Stephens said all of their employees are wearing face masks as customers make their way from a display building to a separate area where the fireworks are paid for and bagged. She said the system they have in place where the customers can’t touch any of the fireworks until after they’re paid for is a system that has already been in place for years.
“We handle everything with care,” Stephens explained.
Frank Sulek of Lafferty said he purchases fireworks for the Fourth of July every year, as he looked over a variety of fireworks in the display area.
Stephens said her family’s fireworks business dates back hundreds of years to her ancestors in Italy, was first formalized in the 1700’s and eventually brought to the United States in 1908 by Stephen’s great grandfather, Domenico Presutti. The local business was originally located in downtown Bellaire before eventually moving to its current location just off of Interstate 470 in the 1950s.
Kim Grall, who was managing a TNT fireworks tent setup in a parking area near Walmart at The Highlands also said she has been much busier than normal this year. She said this is the third year in a row she has sold fireworks at The Highlands site, and many customers indicated to her that they planned to do their own private displays this year due to the ongoing pandemic.
“We have been very busy,” she said, as several customers looked over a variety of fireworks displayed on tables set up inside the tent.