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How to Start a Retail Firework Business
Buy a License
Visit the local state government website and download an application for a retail fireworks license. Mail in the application with the appropriate fee for the license by its deadline and wait for the results. Typically the deadline is around the first of May. Be sure to list the person who will be authorized for the sale of the fireworks as that person alone will be able to purchase the fireworks from the retailer.
Find Where Selling Fireworks is Legal
Contact your local fire officials of the jurisdiction where you plan to place your stand. They will be able to tell you if and what fireworks are legal to sell in the area. If there are restrictions or if fireworks are illegal in the jurisdiction, you will be unable to continue and will need to find a different location.
Receive a Permit
After you have verified with the fire officials that it is legal to sell fireworks in your jurisdiction, you must then present your license to the chief fire official who will then review your application and give you a permit to operate your stand.
Build or Rent Your Stand
Keep in mind security and sales when deciding on what you want to sell your fireworks in. When considering safety and product management, a stand is almost always the direction to go. With a stand you can lock your merchandise up at night without having to move it. It is also easier to prevent theft with a stand, since the customers would not be able to pick up the merchandise unless you hand the firework to them.
A tent is not secure enough to lock down for the night. As such you would need to find another approved area to store your fireworks during the night time, and have to reset your sales floor each day. The only benefit of a tent is that it can be cheaper to rent than to build or rent a stand.
The only general regulations for your retail outlet are that your stand is the required distance from other buildings (this varies by jurisdiction), has the appropriate "no smoking" signs displayed and sells only fireworks. There may be other specific regulations depending on the jurisdiction in which your stand is located. Check with your local fire officials for more information.
Most fireworks wholesale distributors will also sell insurance. This insurance can get costly. However, operating without insurance can cost much more. Considering that you have the regular risks of a business, along with the risks of working with highly flammable and explosive materials, it is impossible and illegal in many areas to operate without appropriate insurance. Check with your distributor about insurance prices for your area.
The best source to buy fireworks is through wholesale distributors. Most states in which firework sales are legal will have a specific distributor that will offer sales and shipment within that state. However, some distributors will only ship within a certain radius of their warehouse. In this case, you may have to hire a freight company to deliver the goods. This can get costly as fireworks transport requires trucks that have the correct plates and a driver with a hazardous material endorsement. The best option is to find a wholesale distributor within driving distance with whom you can strike a cash-and-carry deal. This allows you to buy only what you need and not have to wait for, or pay for, a freight company.
Every state has specific open and close dates for retail fireworks businesses. These dates can vary within different cities or counties. Research these dates so that you can maximize the amount of dates you have your stand open. The more dates open, the better chance you will break even for your business. Operating before or after open and close dates can result in hefty fines or being shut down entirely.
Chris Sherwood is a professional journalist who after years in the health administration field and writing health and wellness articles turned towards organic sustainable gardening and food education. He now owns and operates an organic-method small farm focusing his research and writing on both organic gardening methods and hydroponics.