• Last modified 572 days ago (July 2, 2020)


Families don't just set off fireworks; they make a ritual of selling them

Staff writer

Jeannie Goza and granddaughter Kaydence Lopez took a day trip to Hillsboro from Ramona this past week to stock up on fireworks for the family’s Fourth of July celebration.

The annual display may be a blast, but the annual gathering of her clan makes the holiday sparkle, Goza said.

“It’s about family time and our right to have that family time,” Goza said.

The Fourth also has brought together families who have operated fireworks stands in Marion County for years.

Caleb Rempel, a student at Tabor College, and his family have been selling fireworks with his father Robert Rempel, in Hillsboro for nearly a decade.

Every April, the Rempels visit a convention to choose fireworks for their stand.

“It’s been a fun family business because he actually lets us help out with all the decision making and inventory,” Caleb said. “I learned a lot about business.”

Robert’s five children range in age from elementary school to college age.

“A lot of their friends come,” he said. “That family part of the business is neat. It’s not because of me. It’s because of them.”

Now a student at Tabor, Caleb has been helping since he was 10.

Mortar shells are his favorite explosive.

“They’re more interactive I’d say, so you can do a lot of lighting them, and they’re probably the biggest group,” he said.

Roxanne Dallke, owner of Roxy’s Rockets in Peabody, has operated a stand with her family for 16 years. Her father, Randy Dallke, a county commissioner, also started the business for his children.

“My dad said there wasn’t any way for kids to make money in a small town,” she said. “So it was a way to make spending money.

The Dallkes’ stand opened for the season at noon Saturday and was busy until 11 p.m. They plan to stay open until 10 a.m. most weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends.

“We’ve been steady. I think it’s going to be a great year,” Roxanne said.

“People have been cooped up due to COVID-19 and they are going to want to spend time with their families.

“I think there will be a lot of back yard parties. We don’t have the big stuff going on downtown like usual, so I think more people are going to want to stay at home and celebrate and watch what they can.”

Robert Rempel said his family’s stand sells a majority of its fireworks after July 1. By the holiday, they usually have enough stock left for only two or three tables.

The short sales season turns every year into a gamble, Caleb Rempel said.

“This year especially was a gamble. I was really concerned,” he said. “The market is difficult to predict, and sellers sometimes see swings of several hundred dollars from individual customers. We had someone who said, ‘We’re not going to do a show this year. We’re not getting a big one. Then they come in and spend more than they normally do.”

The holiday falls on Saturday this year which will giving everyone a sales boost.

“The day of the week the fourth falls on is definitely a different factor in buying,” he said. “Having the Fourth on Friday or Saturday is a big deal. Sometimes even a Thursday is good. Usually people will get an extra day off.”

The Rempels try to vary the fireworks they sell at their stand each year. Robert doesn’t see certain fireworks rising or falling in popularity.

Goza prefers coming to Hillsboro for fireworks because she can get other shopping done on the same trip. Kaydence’s favorites are snakes and parachutes.

Ramona canceled its Independence Day celebration, but that hasn’t affected her family’s plans.

“We’ll do our normal thing,” she said. “It’s pretty big in our corner.”

The Dallkes work with two purveyors — Sizzboom of Fredonia, and Red Rhino of Joplin, Missouri — and have “a lot of new stuff this year,” said Roxanne Dallke.

Randy Dallke and Roxanne’s twin sons, Chris and Colton Terronez were busy installing new shelves at 1 a.m. Saturday for more room, Roxanne Dallke said.

Artillery shells — fireworks that launch from a mortar tube and detonate an aerial display — have been popular with men who buy from their stand.

“I think those are the most popular every year,” she said.

She has steered customers who want more bang for their buck toward an assortment of 200-gram cakes.

“They are going to be a little over telephone height, and you still get all the pretty colors going up in there air — just not as high as artillery,” she said.

Last modified July 2, 2020