Fireworks sales in Chanute kicked off Wednesday and local stands saw sizable turnouts. Long time fireworks stand operator Kenny Ornelas attributed this uptick in sales to the holiday falling on a weekend.
“The numbers are definitely better than they were last year at this same timeframe, but you got to take into consideration that fireworks are falling on a weekend this year and it’s always a better year on a weekend,” he said. Because of this, he decided to load his stand heavier than a typical year and has already seen products, especially bigger fireworks, moving faster.
“I think people are buying the big night works earlier,” he said. “That’s the biggest change this year.”
Ornelas has been in the business since 1991 and the stand is located in front of Main St. Tobacco and Sporting Goods.
Located in the building next to El Pueblito Mexican Restaurant, Victor and Kathryn Uhner have kicked off their first year running a stand by themselves. The family has helped at a nearby stand, Crazy Debbie’s, for the past five or six years, but are new to the solo game.
While the family saw a lot of customers on the first day, they are unsure if locals are compensating with the lack of a city show with larger family and neighborhood shows.
“Being the first day, and we’ve never ran the building, it’s hard for us to tell,” said Victor.
The Newton family has run the Crazy Debbie’s stand for the past six years and noticed an increase in customers even in just the first day of sales.
“I think because the display is cancelled, we are seeing a lot more like family parties so they’re coming and looking for things that would make a good display with their family,” said Jennifer Newton.
The prediction of larger family and neighborhood displays has been evident in the product type many of their customers are purchasing.
“We’ve had a lot of people look for finale boxes and just different big displays,” said Newton.
In addition to these bigger displays, the booth is already seeing its kid novelty products being one of the top sellers, though this is common for the stand.
Not all families in the community, though, are seeing much change in their plans for the holiday. One local resident says they are sticking to buying their typical amount of fireworks and having an annual family cookout to celebrate.
With the current COVID-19 restrictions, some stands are making a variety of changes in how they run their business. Most stands have put in place the cleaning of all carts and baskets between customers. Some have added additional space so customers are able to pass each other without getting too close, while others have utilized sneeze guards to help protect customers and staff.
Customers have also felt the effects of COVID-19, with one customer saying that some family members would have to miss out on normal celebrations this year in taking precautions. While stands appeared to have heavy traffic, most customers and employees were utilizing face masks. The state mandate to do so went into effect at 12:01 am Friday.