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Supply chain issues handcuff fireworks retailers

  

Weldon Spring, Mo. — It’s no secret that the supply chain for many sectors across America is severely strained. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and continuing until today, supply chain issues both related and un-related to COVID have caused significant issues for businesses everywhere.

The explosive rise in demand for fireworks around July 4 and the precise time-frame in which to sell patriotic pyrotechnics means that the struggling supply chain has often left fireworks retailers with their stock snuffed out.

Rep. Chris Sander, R-Lone Jack, is the owner of Powder Monkey Fireworks, a firework company founded in 2007 that has four locations across Missouri including Weldon Spring, Cape Girardeau and Kingdom City. Sander saw the supply chain issues first hand during the recent Fourth of July holiday.

“Normally fireworks come from China by ocean vessel to California. Then they’re railroaded to Kansas City or St. Louis,” Sander said on a phone call. “The port issue was so challenging in California, that they (fireworks shippers) were actually bringing vessels through the Panama Canal and Central America up through the Gulf Coast … a lot longer route. What normally took 28 days to get here from China, has taken up to 120 days to get a container here.”

This drastic increase in shipping time and vast variation in arrival times is exceptionally problematic for fireworks retailers in Missouri. The state allows for just 20 days, June 30 to July 10 for the sale of fireworks.

“Any city can also restrict it farther to be a shorter period than the 20 days the state allow … so it’s anywhere from eight days to 20 days in Missouri,” Sander said.

“It’s like trying to throw darts, you’re trying to get a container here from China that you ordered a year or two ago during a 20 day period. You’re either gonna get it here way early or way late. It’s very hard to get it here on-time when the demand is just right,” he added.

Sander wants to work in the state legislature to help solve supply chain issues in Missouri, though he does believe some of these issues have come from federal-level actions.

“We need to have alternate ports. Missouri gets most everything from Long Beach, California and then railroad to Kansas City and St. Louis. We need to develop our own ports on the Missouri River and Mississippi River coming up from the Gulf Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and from Texas on railroad,” Sander said.

“It’s not just fireworks — every business deals with these issues — I’m elected in Jackson County, District 33, House of Representatives in Missouri, and I’m on the Small Business Committee … I’d love to have some hearings and get some legislation that would help Missouri importing and exporting.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Rep. Chris Sander.