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Fireworks can be sold in Utah, so why are so many stands closed?

Inside the Fireworks Frenzy stand in Clearfield. Photo: Paul Nelson

CLEARFIELD, Utah — Despite a growing list of cities banning them, Utahns can finally buy fireworks for their Fourth of July and Pioneer Day celebrations. So, why does it seem that the majority of fireworks stands are closed? 

Personal fireworks, or “Class C” fireworks are up for sale between now and July 25th, even though more cities are deciding to ban them. On Thursday, South Salt Lake and Ogden decided to implement fireworks bans within their city limits.  West Jordan increased restrictions on where they could be fired.

However, if you look inside the tents set up next to gas stations, grocery stores and strip malls across the Wasatch Front, you would see many of them aren’t being used. In many cases, the tables aren’t even set up to display any goods.  Aren’t they losing valuable selling time? 

Not necessarily. Fireworks Frenzy owner Brian Nelson said many fireworks manufacturers don’t require their retailers to be open through the entire selling window.

(Two fireworks stands in nearby parking lots along 500 South in Bountiful. Neither of them were open as of June 24. Photo: Paul Nelson)

“They only contracted to work a certain amount of days,” Nelson said. “They’re required to be there the 1st through the 4th.”

Plus, it’s common for some sellers to wait until closer to the holidays because that’s when sales really pick up.

“Some of them won’t even open up until just a couple of days before the Fourth of July,” he said.

There could be other reasons why some fireworks stands aren’t open.  Nelson said there is a major supply problem with products coming from overseas. He said there are loads of fireworks still waiting in ports along the west coast, but there aren’t enough trucks to haul them here.

(A fireworks tent near Bountiful Jr. High, painted with the message “Don’t Burn Down Utah.” Photo: Paul Nelson)

Also, Nelson said there is a lot of animosity toward their industry this year because of extreme drought.  He said they always instruct their customers how to light fireworks safely, even in dry conditions, but he says many people are frustrated the stands are open, at all.  For instance, he said his workers were harassed at his Clearfield location.

Nelson said, “We weren’t even open, yet.  We were just setting up the stand and they went out of their way to come up and make a scene.”

He said he understands why people are more hesitant to launch fireworks while things are so dry, but several people are taking the harassment to the next level.

“[One man] decided to ask us why we were doing it, called us names for doing it and asked us why we would help burn down the city,” according to Nelson.

In Bountiful, one empty fireworks stand was painted with the phrase “Don’t Burn Down Utah.”