New fireworks business opens near airport

Monday, June 20, 2005

From today until July 10, it is legal to use fireworks to mark Independence Day in Missouri, except in cities like Cape Girardeau and Jackson where the period is shorter. Rick Hoffman said that makes it a good time to let fans of sparklers, cannonballs and -- yes, even bottle rockets -- know that the construction of his fireworks retail outlet is complete and his business has opened with a bang.

The new 4,000-square-foot building is behind Rhodes City Travel Center just off Interstate 55 near exit 91. The building will serve as a base for his retail and wholesale fireworks business.

At first, the business will be opened only around the two times a year that fireworks can be used -- around the Fourth of the July and a narrower window around New Year's Day. The business will be open by appointment after those times, he said.

But he hopes that business is good enough to open more frequently and eventually year-round. He's planning on building some rental storage units near the new store this fall. He said once he has someone on site year-round, they could manage both businesses.

"Once we're up and running, I see the store being open a little more," he said.

The new Hoffmans Fireworks was open last week. State law says that if fireworks are bought outside of the the legally designated time periods, then buyers must sign an affadavit pledging not to shoot them in the state until it's legal.

The Hoffmans have been in fireworks a long time. His father started with a small spot near a service station in Perryville more than 50 years ago. For more than 18 years, they have been putting up fireworks tents in Cape Girardeau, Jackson and other locations around July 4.

The new permanent location will carry 511 items, the same items that are on their wholesale inventory lists, which they sell to about 25 other other fireworks vendors. Hoffman works with six import companies.

Because his new building is not within the Scott City limits, he can now sell bottle rockets, which are illegal in Cape Girardeau and Jackson. Bottle rockets can be shot in the county but not in those cities, he said.

"It's a shame there's a whole generation of kids who are going to grow up without bottle rocket stories," he said.

This August, Hoffman is going to China to scout out bigger and better fireworks.

"I don't go every year," he said. "But I go when I can. I go to the manufacturers and look at their products to see what are going to really impress our customers."

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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