This year’s at-home fireworks displays will likely include fewer light shows than usual.
At the TNT Fireworks tent in the parking lot of the Franklin Walmart, fountains are in short supply and sparklers are nowhere to be found.
The tent set up shop June 25. Coming off one of the best-selling fireworks seasons in years last July, the first few days of fireworks sales outpaced last year. This time, a nationwide fireworks shortage due to a supply chain issue with China, where many of the products are made, is being felt in Johnson County.
TNT has enough supply of larger fireworks, such as multi-shot aerials and mortars. But due to the supply chain issues, smaller fireworks were shipped to states with “safe and sane” laws prohibiting the residential use of fireworks that fly or explode. With most shipments directed to those states, states such as Indiana, which do not have those laws, are short on those safer fireworks, said Charles McCoy, who runs the fireworks tent.
“We don’t have anything that sits on the ground and shoots close,” McCoy said. “Fountains are in short supply. One of the best sellers we have had is the No. 10 golden sparkler, but there’s none. That’s because TNT sent them all to safe and sane states.”
Franklin resident Denise Blackburn filled a shopping cart with fireworks, but was unable to get popular fountains or parachute fireworks for her daughter.
“She’ll have a fit,” Blackburn said. “A lot of stuff they don’t have, but I’ve got to work with what we got and hope for the best.”
Also due to the shortage, prices are up at the fireworks tent. Red snappers increased to $5 this year from $3 last year. Festival balls more than doubled, to $19 from $9.
Several novelty items are out of stock, said Drake Faull, who is helping McCoy run the tent this year.
“The day we had our delivery, we usually get six pallets with fireworks. This year we only got four,” Faull said. “We didn’t receive novelty items, which were a big seller for families. Smoke bombs, smoke grenades, tanks, parachutes, things that are street-level and kids would enjoy but aren’t very noisy. Many people have asked for smoke bombs specifically, but we had to turn them away, unfortunately.”
Sideshow Fireworks in Greenwood has had an easier go of it. Co-owners Mercedes and Michael Baytala began stocking up soon after last year’s July 4 celebrations ended, they said.
“This season, we started ordering and bringing product back to our warehouse in August and September. We continuously have been ordering. I picked up an order today, and as soon as we wrap up (July 4), we’ll start picking up again,” Mercedes Baytala said.
“We want to be ahead of the game. Last year, we knew there were some fireworks factories in China that had issues. We knew it would be more troublesome to get product. How fireworks sales went last year, the supply was depleted.”
With advanced planning, Sideshow was able to sidestep the supply issues that surprised many, and remained fully stocked Wednesday, Michael Baytala said.
Some of the most popular items include fireworks fiesta, mini zipper cakes and mortar shells, he said.
“Everyone in Indiana seems to like mortar shells; those are very popular this year,” Michael Baytala said. “Am I seeing a fireworks shortage here now? No. Come (July 4), I’m sure we will. Sales are better than they were last year at this date and time.”