Northwest Indiana fireworks dealers say business has fizzled this year

Fireworks dealers across the border from Illinois say business is not booming this year.

In fact, it’s fizzled — and they’re blaming the same economic and supply chain issues that have buffeted the economy.

Jim Mertes drove from Bolingbrook to load up at Uncle Sam’s Fireworks, just steps from the Illinois border in Hammond.

But this year, the crowds have gone from boom to bust.

"Last two years there was lines out the door. An hour to get into the store, two hours. Now there’s no waits. We don’t have a lot of returning customers," said Daniel Mota, owner of Uncle Sam’s Fireworks.


Mota says inflation is putting the squeeze on many of his longtime customers and the cost of gas is making many think twice about a long drive to northwest Indiana.

"The guys call us and say they’re not able to purchase this year because of economic reasons, gas being too high. I have seen a lot of people doing carpooling now because gas has gone up," Mota said.

"We have plenty of fireworks, but the industry as a whole has a shortage of fireworks," said Greg Kaplan, owner of Krazy Kaplan’s Fireworks.

Greg "Krazy" Kaplan says they’re also being squeezed by the skyrocketing cost of shipping fireworks. It used to cost Kaplan $10,000 to ship a container of fireworks from China.

Now, that same container costs more than $42,000 to ship and that doesn’t even include the cost of the fireworks.

"I would say some of the prices went up 30%," Kaplan said. "Again, it’s not because I want to charge 30% … it’s because the cost of shipping it here was 30% more."

And now with the holiday just a week away, Kaplan is hoping to light a fuse on sales.

"This week’s the Fourth of July week. This week is my Christmas week," he said.

Supply chain issues are also impacting the professional fireworks shows. A number of communities downstate have had to cancel their Fourth of July festivities because they just can’t get their hands on the fireworks.