Fireworks — fun and philanthropic

BY D. LARS DOLDER, News + Record Staff
Posted 7/14/21

Everyone’s seen the fireworks tents that pop up in the week before July 4, but what happens to the take-home-combustibles business in the other 51 weeks of the year?

Not a whole lot.

“The …

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Fireworks — fun and philanthropic

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Everyone’s seen the fireworks tents that pop up in the week before July 4, but what happens to the take-home-combustibles business in the other 51 weeks of the year?

Not a whole lot.

“The majority of consumer fireworks are sold around the Fourth of July and over the New Year’s holidays,” Sherri Fallin Simmons, president and CEO of Duffey Communications, told me.

Simmons’ company represents TNT Fireworks, the unequivocal industry leader. The company has been in business for more than 100 years and distributes fireworks and sparklers to 49 states. It’s the nation’s largest fireworks distributor with products sold in more than 40,000 retail stores, Simmons said, but TNT’s most common incarnation is the pop-up tent that seems to populate every parking lot across the country in July and December, before inconspicuously disappearing as festivities subside. The tents don’t contribute much to TNT’s bottom line, though.

“TNT partners with nonprofit groups nationwide, raising more than $30 million each year for their respective causes,” Simmons said. “The proceeds derived from fireworks sales each year directly support local initiatives ranging from well-established charitable organizations and local public-school groups raising funds for band and sports equipment to youth groups raising funds for mission trips.”

Duffey couldn’t release specifics of TNT’s Chatham partners, nor how much revenue they make on average, citing the company’s policy not to make sales figures public. And it would be “too early to estimate at this point,” anyway, she said. But this year and last, fireworks sales were off the chart. According to some reports, individual tents could make more than $20,000 in a week’s time.

“Product demand was extremely high in 2020 due to the pandemic,” Simmons said. “Since the majority of professional fireworks displays were canceled due to COVID-19, families celebrated at home with consumer fireworks. Product demand was also high this year because families and friends were excited about being able to celebrate together.”

Unsurprisingly — as with lumber, microchips, used cars, oil and more that I’ve previously written about — the fireworks ran out.

“There is a national shortage of consumer products this year,” Simmons said, “including fireworks, due to shipping delays, container shortages and back-up at ports, so many consumers were shopping early.”

Fortunately, fireworks rarely come with expiration dates. Any reserve you’ve managed to stockpile ought to last until your next jamboree. But don’t go too crazy. North Carolina law forbids the most spectacular fireworks displays except by special permitting. To play it safe stick with sparklers, fountains, smoke devices, snake and glow worms, trick noisemakers, string poppers or snappers and toy pistol caps. Explosives or aerial fireworks, roman candles, rockets and similar devices are expressly prohibited.

Other business news

Back in May I wrote about a concept home in Chatham Park designed to address feedback from about 7,000 Americans nationwide (Millennials start settling down, but (as always) it’s on their own terms). The house, now officially dubbed Barnaby, was unveiled Tuesday after a 60-day, foundation-to-finish build.

“As you previously covered the results from the study, you’ll have a good idea about the types of layout and design shifts made in the home,” Wendy Agudelo, a senior communications strategist for the project, told me. “But words on paper hardly do the design justice.”

Barnaby is a 2,600 square-foot, two-story, four bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath concept home constructed to satisfy Americans’ (read: millennials’) newfound needs after enduring nearly 15 months in pandemic. The data from the completed survey — called the America At Home Study — revealed major paradigm shifts in ideology, which researchers think will fundamentally shift the homebuilding market in years to come.

“Millennials have always made their own way, and they’re continuing to do that now as more of them enter the housing market,” Alaina Money-Garman, CEO and co-founder of Cary-based Garman Homes, previously told the News + Record. “They don’t want the same things as their parents did.”

Garman partnered with the America At Home Study leaders to develop the Barnaby concept. Their design considerations prioritized safety, comfort and wellness. Dedicated office space, “flex spaces,” a guest suite with outdoor access, larger family bathroom, multiple covered outdoor spaces, improved kitchen functionality, flexible storage, drop zones for package deliveries and touchless fixtures were all features heavily requested in the national survey. And my favorite feature: The master bedroom includes a breakaway bookcase that hides a secret chamber.

Barnaby was open this week for exclusive, invite-only tours on Tuesday and Wednesday. Digital and remote walk-throughs were also available. The house is located at 28 Edgefield St. in Pittsboro at the intersection of Vine Parkway and Edgefield. To learn more about the project, visit

Have an idea for what Chatham business topics I should write about? Send me a note at or on Twitter @dldolder.


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