PHOENIX — Karen Herrman never dreamed of getting into the fireworks business until she married into it. Now, 40 years later, she is preparing the tents of Red Hot Fireworks for another Fourth of July.
Independence Day is just a few weeks away, and fireworks tents like Herrman’s are preparing for a rush of customers. But like many other products recently, fireworks are impacted by the strain of supply chain issues.
Herrman is hoping this year is better than the last.
"Shipping has more than tripled"
“Last year was a nightmare getting product. We actually sold out early,” said Herrman, the owner and director of operations at Red Hot Fireworks.
Red Hot Fireworks had 21 locations around the Valley, but due to the pandemic, they dropped to about 10. Herrman said they’ve added two more locations this year for the Fourth of July Season.
Their tents can be found in many major cities around the Valley including Phoenix, Chandler, Goodyear and Peoria. Their mission is to provide “safe and sane” fireworks to consumers, and their tents hold a wide variety of the Black Cat brand of fireworks.
This year, supply chain issues aren’t hurting them as much. The increase in shipping costs are.
“The shipping has more than tripled,” Herrman said. “Almost two years ago the shipping was around $9,000 to get a container in from China. Now it’s $52,000 and some of them are $58,000.”
The increase in shipping costs brings with it an increase in product price for the consumer. Because of supply chain issues last year, Red Hot Fireworks had a big price increase, Herrman said. This year they slightly increased their price by about 5%.
Despite the shortage, Herrman said they don’t expect to run out of fireworks this year.
“We have enough,” Herrman said. “The only thing is we don’t have the things that we normally sell. So we had to choose other things to fill those gaps,”
Numerous Valley events cancel, reschedule
The fireworks suppliers aren’t the only ones feeling the brunt of supply chain issues. Some of the Fourth of July celebrations around the Valley have gotten canceled or rescheduled for an earlier date because of the shortage.
First at the Fountain, an annual Fourth of July event held in Fountain Hills at Fountain Park, was moved from July 4 to July 1. This is the first time this event had to be rescheduled.
“It’s not only the fireworks shortage. There’s a staffing shortage,” said Linda Ayres, recreation manager at Fountain Hills. “So, if we wanted to have fireworks, we had to put it on a different day.”
First at the Fountain brings about 12,000 people to Fountain Hills, Ayres said. She is hoping the date change doesn’t impact their usual turnout.
“We’re navigating uncharted territory doing this,” Ayres said. “We hope that on a Friday night people will be able to come out.”
The City of Phoenix has also canceled three of its annual fireworks shows because of the shortages. The three events are Fabulous Phoenix Fourth, Light Up the Sky at the American Family Fields and After Dark in the Park, a City press release said.
But big celebrations aren't the only way people can enjoy this holiday, Herrman said.
“People can still have safe celebrations in their own driveway if they just follow all of the safety procedures,” Herrman said.
Some of these safety precautions include having a 15-feet diameter of clearance in the location of the launch, having a water bucket or hose handy, keeping children and pets out of the way and not launching during windy conditions, Herrman said.
As for First at the Fountain, Ayres said she is hoping that by this time next year, they have secured enough fireworks and technicians to not need to reschedule. The event is scheduled to return on the Fourth for the 2023 celebration.
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