Profits not as high as expected at one fireworks stand

Published 12:28 am Tuesday, July 6, 2010

NATCHEZ — For one fireworks stand on U.S. 61 North, sales came in approximately $2,000 less than anticipated.

The stand still made an approximate $10,000 profit.

Wake Mitchell, 24, who was one of the tent’s salesmen, said he sold $3,000 less than he sold in December for the New Year’s Eve celebration.

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“On the Fourth of July, people celebrate gradually throughout the evening,” Mitchell said. “But on New Year’s Eve, it is all about that midnight celebration, and folks go crazy.

“I think, basically, people around here care more about shooting fireworks on New Year’s.”

Not meeting summer sales expectations could have something to do with the economy, Mitchell said.

“I think the idea that we are having a recession (has faded in people’s minds), and people are not afraid to spend money,” Mitchell said. “But people do have less money to spend.”

Mitchell said during the day on July 4, sales were slow, but the number of customers boomed from evening to 11 p.m.

“This business is all about last-minute sales,” Mitchell said. “If you can keep fireworks on the table, they tend to sell.”

The tents are set up for two weeks, but Mitchell said sales are pretty slow until the day of the event.

Mitchell said July 5 was the final day, and they try to sell as many of the smaller, unpackaged fireworks, as they can before they load everything up and take it to a warehouse in Jackson.

During the two-week period, Mitchell, a student at the University of Kansas, camped out inside the tent, as he did during December, which was his first time in Natchez.

“It is basically two weeks of living in the outdoors,” Mitchell said. “It takes a special type of person to do this, but if you like zest and adventure, it is worthwhile.”

Mitchell said he decided to sell fireworks as a way to make some extra money over the summer, and he goes wherever the company asks him to go.

The two-man crew kept a rifle and a baseball bat in the tent with them at all times, but Mitchell said they never had to use it.

“Because we are living inside the tent, you have to be prepared,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said none of the big fireworks were stolen, but he is sure some of the pocket fireworks got away while they were busy.

“The pocket stuff getting stolen will happen,” Mitchell said. “Basically, you just have to try to minimize it.

“We put the orange bunting around the tent so there was only one entrance to help.”

During downtime, Mitchell said he visited some of Natchez’s antiques shops.

“You do get the chance to explore a little bit,” he said. “The shops were pretty fun.”