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Firing up the Fourth: Selling Fireworks in Springfield

Emily McTavish

Citizens throughout the region have many options of where to purchase fireworks for the Fourth of July, considering the several stands and tents along roadways. But what’s the process like for the sellers?

Randy Richardson, of R&R Fireworks, operates one of those tents. He’s been selling fireworks in Springfield since 1990. Richardson says he considers the previous year’s sales to determine how much product he needs to buy.

“We kind of watch what our sales have been the year before, and right now we’re running about parallel even with where we were last year,” Richardson says.

Any licensed fireworks vendor in the state is allowed to sell from June 20 through July 10, but Richardson says last year was the first year he stayed open past July 4.

First comes his merchant license, which Richardson gets at the beginning of the year. Then he renews his sales tax identification number, gets a license from the fire marshal, and then files paperwork with the city for a permit.

In his 26 years of selling fireworks, Richardson says the city permit has increased by $400.

During the rest of the year, Richardson is a school bus driver, but he and his wife travel to firework demonstrations in the fall and spring to purchase their goods.

“We’ll watch maybe 100 items, 150 items but we might only buy two items that we saw that we really like,” Richardson says.

Richardson says there are always “good old-faithfuls” like bottle rockets, sparklers and cone fountains.

Credit Emily McTavish / KSMU
Randy Richardson, of R&R Fireworks, is selling fireworks in the parking lot of Mike's Unique at 3335 West Sunshine St.

“There’s so many different kinds of sparklers now,” Richardson says. “They’ve got neon, morning glories, metal ones, bamboo ones, 36-inch long ones, little short 8-inch ones—there’s quite a variety on sparklers.”

Richardson says he’ll typically stay open until midnight on July 4, and sells nearly all of his goods. He also says he doesn’t save his products from year to year.

As for consumers, it’s important to note that fireworks are not permitted to be set off within city limits. Exceptions include sparklers, snappers, party poppers and snakes, which people can light in their yards.

Springfield Assistant Fire Chief Randy Villines says sparklers are typically the leading cause of injury on July 4 because they are often given to children. He recommends supervising children and having a bucket of water close by for discarding the burnt out sparklers.

“We definitely recommend that if you want to do fireworks that you just go see the displays,” Villines says.

Villines also encourages people not to keep fireworks from year to year since gunpowder and the mechanisms within may degrade, making them more dangerous. To dispose of leftover fireworks, Villines says to soak them in water on trash pick-up day and then put them in the trash. He also says people can take the leftovers to their local fire stations so the fire marshals will handle them properly.

Following this Friday and Saturday’s Springfield Cardinals games at Hammons Field, fireworks will be presented. There is also a fireworks show at the Life360 Freedom Fest on Saturday, July 4 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. Gates open at 6 p.m. for concessions and games, and the show begins at sundown.

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