Local fireworks vendors face shortage; another side effect of the coronavirus pandemic

Local News

HOWARD, Wis. (WFRV) – At Uncle Sam Fireworks, pyrotechnics enthusiasts like Joe Kopke of Green Bay stocked up for the 4th of July.

“[I’ve got a] Couple of boxes I’ve used in the past, and I like my artillery shells because they usually, as long as you’re careful with them, put on good shows,” he said, explaining the contents of his shopping cart.

This year, regulars at the fireworks store are noticing changes on the shelves.

“Most the places are only getting, like half the shipments they normally get,” Kopke said. “They’re not putting on the sales they normally put on, so it’s kind of being a little pickier on what you chose.”

Shoppers in Northeast Wisconsin like Kopke are being impacted by nationwide shortages.

“It kind of all leads back to the pandemic,” Uncle Sam Fireworks Co-Owner Deb Decker said.

Decker told Local 5 that supply chair issues are responsible for this summer’s sparse shelves.

“The fireworks are almost all made in China, so it [the pandemic] caused a shortage of workers, a shortage of raw materials, and then the shipping, there was a shortage of drivers, a shortage of containers, and then the ports got backed up,” she said, “and it just snowballed.”

Retailers say to stock up early for your at-home fireworks show this year, because when they’re out, they’re out.

“We’ve been really busy and a lot of the bigger customers that actually design their shows and everything have come in already because they don’t want to miss out,” Decker said.

“I even came in here and scouted it out before,” Kopke said.

When asked about his fireworks show, “it’s going to be similar, but probably on a smaller scale,” he said.

Decker told Local 5 that her stock is currently at about 60 to 70 percent of what it would be in a typical year.

She says they’re making the best of the situation, “we’re a seasonal business and we only have one shot at it, so you do the best you can.”

Decker added that she thinks the supply chain issue is not a problem that will be quickly solved.

“I think it’ll take a couple years for it to get all worked out,” she said. “But we’re making big headway because last year our shelves were bare by the end of the season, so we started way behind.”

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