By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A national shortage of fireworks forced Nate McDonald to drive from Cheyenne to Powell this week to buy the explosives.
Not for his own Fourth of July celebration, mind you. He was buying fireworks for his own store, the Wyoming Fireworks Warehouse in Cheyenne.
“We have gone on a 14-hour round trip to grab our last shipment of fireworks for the season, because our main supplier doesn’t think they will have more until way after the Fourth of July, which is kind of pointless,” McDonald told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. “It’s been an insane trip. We’ve never had to do anything like this before.”
McDonald’s Fireworks Warehouse is just one fireworks retailer suffering from a shortage of fireworks this year. And as retailers suffer through shortages, so, too, do fireworks enthusiasts.
Unsurprisingly, it is also another aftereffect of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Around 98% to 99% of consumer fireworks are made in China, but now containers of them are stuck at ports and people can’t get them,” McDonald said. “There aren’t enough people to load them onto railcars. A lot of smaller places aren’t opening this year because they can’t get the product in.”
McDonald has been alerting customers to the shortage, letting them know they need to buy their fireworks sooner rather than later. The closer it gets to the Fourth of July, the likelier it is that fireworks dealers will sell out of their products.
Some products also had to increase in price due the supply chain issues, he added.
According to NBC News, the U.S. imports around 255 million pounds of fireworks annually, but supplies were expected to be down by about 30% this year.
McDonald said 2020 was a phenomenal year for sales, and he was hoping the Fireworks Warehouse would continue that success into this year. He added that it has been a similar situation for other fireworks stores in Cheyenne.
“People are still buying as much as they can, but now it’s just a matter of who’s got what,” he said. “It’s a crazy season. A lot of people think this ‘shortage’ is a gimmick to get people in the store, but it’s 100% true.”