The fireworks industry is gearing up for a big bang this Fourth of July. Sales have begun to peak this week, according to Jerry Bostocky, Vice President of Sales for Phantom Fireworks, one of the largest retailers of consumer fireworks in the U.S. Phantom Fireworks has 1,200 tents and stands open this Fourth of July, in addition to 68 stores that are open year-round. Some of these tents, stands, and stores are in Kimco shopping centers.

Jerry told us that this year’s Fourth of July will bode well for sales because the holiday falls on a Thursday. Many consumers will take off work Friday, affording them more time to shoot off fireworks throughout the long weekend.

But there’s a bigger reason why this year’s Fourth of July promises to be a boon (or boom?) for fireworks retailers. The fireworks industry is healthier than ever due to the significant strides it has made over past several years to improve product quality and safety, and tighten compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s regulations.

PYRO POWER: Stocked shelves at Phantom Fireworks

These efforts have caused consumer fireworks injuries to decline 43 percent between 2000 and 2012, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. As a result, more states have lifted their fireworks bans in recent years. Now 46 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, allow the sale and use of some types of consumer fireworks.

This change has allowed the firework industry to expand. Jerry told us that in 1994, about 117 million pounds of pyrotechnics were sold in the U.S. That number doubled by 2011 with over 234 million pounds of pyrotechnics sold.

We talked to Jerry about these trends and a number of other issues shaping the consumer fireworks industry today. It was a really insightful conversation, and you can tune in below! Feel free to jump ahead using the time codes if any topic especially grabs you. And, as always, here’s the transcript, too.

  • 1:04 Background on Phantom Fireworks
  • 2:27 Why Phantom Fireworks sells through tents, retail stores, and national retailers
  • 4:22 How Phantom works with non-profits to sell fireworks
  • 5:16 Why more states have allowed the sale of consumer fireworks
  • 6:37 How state and municipal safety regulations affect firework sales
  • 7:56 Some of Phantom Fireworks most popular fireworks
  • 10:44 The peak sales period for Fourth of July fireworks
  • 12:07 How Fourth of July fireworks sales compare to New Year’s Eve fireworks sales
  • 13:43 How customer demand has changed for fireworks
  • 14:08 The increase in fireworks safety standards
  • 16:45 Ideas for new laws that would support the fireworks industry while maintaining consumer safety
  • 20:57 The most spectacular firework display Jerry has seen

Thanks for joining us, Jerry!

And finally, there was no way we could end this post without sharing the good ol’ fashioned fun of fireworks since America’s birthday is just a few days away. Here is one of Phantom’s fireworks, “Bada Bing Bada Boom,” in all its pyrotechnic glory. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

This has been an installment of StoreFront, an interview series with leaders of successful retail businesses. For more interviews, visit the StoreFront page. To learn how you can be featured, email us. We’d love to hear from you.