Make Money Selling Fireworks: A Beginner’s Checklist
June 1, 2021
Want to make money as a fireworks retailer? This beginner’s checklist should help guide you through the process of your new project.
Few methods can turn a profit faster than selling fireworks! However, while a fireworks business can be very profitable, you can just as easily lose money if you don’t understand all the ins and outs of running a fireworks stand.
Review the checklist below, and then get started today by downloading our FREE full guide on how to start selling fireworks as a retailer.
Free guide: Selling Fireworks For Beginners (PDF)
FIREWORKS SEASON 2021-2022
Due to supply chain issues , we are seeing a national fireworks shortage this year and hiked prices. We encourage you to keep this in mind when purchasing wholesale fireworks and when determining your retail pricing.
Before getting started on your journey to becoming a fireworks retailer, ask yourself:
- Are you serious about it? While operations are largely seasonal, running a retail fireworks business with continued success is a multi-year commitment.
- Do you have the time? You’ll need to give yourself ample time to research your local market and competition, secure permits and licenses, and secure a location for your first season.
- Do you have the capital? Understand the start-up costs required to run a retail fireworks business and know how you’ll afford them.
First-Time Fireworks Retailer Checklist:
- Do your research
- Find a good location
- Secure permits & licenses
- Get a structure (Tent or Stand? Rent or Buy?)
- Select & purchase the fireworks
- Hire & train staff
- Get started today
Spend some time researching, planning, and learning about the fireworks industry.
In fact, it is a good idea to spend a full Independence Day season simply conducting market research. Getting involved with an existing fireworks retailer is also a great opportunity to experience operations of the business before jumping in yourself.
Other key planning for a fireworks business may include (but is not limited to) writing a business plan, developing a location strategy, and determining a budget.
The first rule of selling fireworks is location, location, location. An ideal location is one that takes into consideration:
- Local market, competition, & location strategy
- Local laws
- Traffic & accessibility
Market research is key – make sure you understand your local market and determine where potential customers are, where your competitors are, and which types of fireworks will sell.
Find a high-traffic area with easy access and egress, and plenty of parking for cars. Make sure it is legal at the state, county, and city level to sell fireworks at your desired location. You may have to search for areas just outside of city limits to comply with local laws.
If you already own a suitable piece of property, you are way ahead of the game. Most fireworks retailers must sign a lease for the use of property during a given time frame. Costs to lease a location for the 4th of July season varies widely, mostly based on traffic and income of the local neighborhood. If you cannot agree to a price or have difficulties contacting the land owner, try reaching out to neighboring and adjacent properties.
Get your desired location under contract for the upcoming selling season. You might consider a multi-year lease. If you are negotiating a lease, consider asking for the option to renew the lease for the next fireworks selling season. This way, you’re not locked into that location for multiple years, plus your competitors cannot take your location after you have built up a reliable customer base.
You will need to identify and understand the proper permits and licenses required in your area (including your state, city, county, etc.) and how to secure them.
To do this, we suggest communicating with some local personnel. This may include but is not limited to:
- The state fire marshal or department/division
- The local fire department or fire protection district
- Your county and/or city planning and zoning department or business services department
Check to see if information is available online first. When communicating with local personnel, tell them where you are planning to place your firework stand or tent, and ask about their concerns or if there are any specific rules you should pay particular attention to that will make your site safer for everyone and up to code.
In brief, here are the basic licenses & permits you will likely need (this may vary from state to state):
- Federal and State Tax ID numbers
- Sales Tax License
- State Fireworks Permit
- Other local licenses as necessary
We recommend getting the permit process done as early as possible. Note that states have deadlines for these applications. Again, check with your local municipality and laws/regulations to find out exactly what is required and how to acquire them.
Before entering any business venture, you should get a handle on expected start-up costs to make sure you have enough cash flow to cover expenses.
Budget items often include (but are not limited to):
- Start-up costs & fees (usually 10-15% of budget – more on that in our Permits & Licensing section)
- Product and shipping costs (depends on supplier – take advantage of discounts and pricing levels)
- Marketing and promotions (usually 5-10% of budget)
- Labor costs (usually 10-20% of budget)
- Credit card fees (if applicable)
You’ll have a wide range of incidental expenditures to make – especially your first year – which all add up rather quickly. Start-up expenses may include (but are not limited to):
- Structure cost (first-time retailers usually opt for a tent or a stand)
- Lease cost
- Site setup and landscaping, if applicable
- Licensing (business license, retail permit, etc.)
- Labor and security
- Point of sale (POS) system (cash registers, cash drawers, scanners, credit card machines)
- Equipment and furniture (tables, chairs, shelving, displays)
- Electrical needs (service, lights, extension cords)
- Other utilities/services (porta potties, mowing, etc)
- Office supplies
- Safety equipment (fire extinguishers, exit signs, emergency lighting)
- Signage and colorful bunting
Setting a realistic sales projection for your retail location might help you put together a budget identifying all your expenses. We discuss how to set a realistic projection of your sales in our full guide.
While there are plenty of overhead costs, operating a fireworks tent is fortunately one of few businesses that can see a profit on a relatively moderate investment. Sales will range depending on a number of factors including, without limitation, the size of the store/tent, your location, and the makeup of your client base. We have seen average sales range from $20,000 to $50,000 but can be much higher.
It is common for fireworks retailers, especially in their first year of operation, to sell fireworks out of a tent or temporary stand. Many established sellers opt instead for a brick-and-mortar store, especially in areas where it is legal to sell fireworks year-round.
Fireworks stands , or roadside stands, are popular in southern states like Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. They are a great option for states that do not allow sales from tents. Stands allow the retailer to fully close and lock up at night and lessen the need for overnight security, although product space is limited.
Fireworks tents are popular for areas that allow them. Tents are very eye-catching and there is ample room for lots of products and for customers to enter and shop under the tent. Note that site set-up must be considered, as well as overnight security (many people sleep at their tent or pay staff to stay overnight during the season, while others opt to put all of their stock in a container overnight and restock each morning).
Renting a tent for first year retailers is advised. It gives you the option to test out the size of the tent. Renting a tent through a respected business also gives you comfort that the tent is set up professionally and it is insured if something happens.
Buying a tent is best if you are committed to the industry and size of the tent. This also gives you the option of renting the tent out for weddings and other events during the year.
Remember that your jurisdiction’s laws, as well as your fireworks budget, may play a large role in your final decision on what retail structure you choose.
Let’s discuss what is possibly the most important (and, in our opinion, the most fun) step in preparing your retail business: selecting and purchasing the fireworks!
Buying fireworks to fill your shelves is going to take up a big portion of your budget. The experts at Spirit of ’76 would be happy to help guide you through the product selection process, and are just a call away at 573-447-1776 .
Before deciding on your firework inventory, check in with all different levels of government in your area to know exactly which fireworks can be sold where your store is located. Your local fire marshall or fire chief may be able to answer your questions, and may even have a list of fireworks that are not permitted in your jurisdiction.
Below are some general guidelines on the cost to fill a location.
Minimal budget – $5,000 – $7,000. This is for low-risk, low-budget new retailers. This will give you a decent variety of products with a little bit of back up on popular items. Typical location size 20X30 tent or 8-16’ stand.
Middle seasonal budget – $12,000-20,000. This gives you more variety and back stock for promotional and popular items. Typical location size 30’X40’-40’X60’ tent or 16’-32’ stand.
Large seasonal location – $30,000-50,000. This is for high traffic, high demographic locations. Location size 60X100+ tent and multiple stands.
Large year-round retail store – This all depends on size of location. If you are thinking of having a monster store 6,000 sq ft or more, you will need a large budget (such as $50,000+) to fill the location for your year-round needs.
The glue of a retail operation is the staff. Not enough can be said for hiring a trustworthy, knowledgeable, hardworking and enthusiastic staff.
When looking for employees, reliable family members are a great place to start. Working at a fireworks stand is a popular summer job for teens. Be sure they meet the proper age requirement before hiring. Teachers are also a great source of staffing. They typically have summers and New Year’s off, and possess management and organizational skills. Additionally, having a resident pyro or fireworks enthusiast on staff is always handy. Someone enthusiastic and knowledgeable about fireworks will help sell more products.
Make sure to hire staff that can work holidays. Typically your busiest days are the day before and the day of the holiday. Establish your staff schedule well in advance so employees can plan their own schedules around yours.
Train staff on all procedures, registers, floor sales, and fireworks safety. Pick a day that’s not too busy (such as the first day of retail sales) to on-board and train your employees so they can handle all responsibilities. You and your staff can learn a lot by watching product videos on our YouTube channel or attending one of our fireworks demos .
Quick tip: You will want to thoroughly train all of your employees on how to work the cash registers and credit card machine(s) – it will save you a major headache when you get busy.
We hope this beginner’s checklist gives you an idea of what it takes to make money selling fireworks.
Want to become a fireworks retailer?
The best way to get started is reviewing our full “Selling Fireworks for Beginners” guide. It’s free to download, and our sales team will follow up with you on your progress.
Free guide: Selling Fireworks For Beginners (PDF)
An easy way to get started is to form a relationship with a reliable fireworks supplier. Here’s why fireworks retailers choose Spirit of ’76 as their wholesale supplier…
Advanced online ordering on shop.76fireworks.com:
- Accurate online ordering system
- Competitive pricing and downloadable price lists updated daily
- Ability to save multiple shopping carts
- Current product availability, and the ability to sign up for in-stock notifications
- Detailed product descriptions and videos
Tools through your Spirit of ’76 account:
- Full order history
- Downloadable invoice spreadsheets (for inventory, pricing, profit analysis, etc)
- Downloadable barcodes on invoices (to program POS)
- Printable price tags with great product descriptions
Knowledgeable staff & fantastic customer service:
Spirit of ’76 staff has over 50 years of retail and wholesale experience. Our account executives are ready to advise you at every step of the way, including advice on…
- General business plan
- Budget and retail location size
- Product selection and pricing
- Marketing and advertising (old & new media)
- Any topic listed in this checklist
Access to exclusive deals & resources:
- Our best wholesale pricing for your business needs
- Further training on retail management
- Promotional materials (banners, signs, etc) for your retail store
- Full library of downloadable product performance videos
- Attend live product demonstrations, which often include seminars on retail management and marketing
Thanks for reading! Give us a shout at 573-447-1776 if you’re ready to work with Spirit of ‘76 on your fireworks order.
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