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Fireworks sales boom amid pandemic

Cancellation of large shows offset by boost in individual sales, local vendors say.
Fireworks Unlimited
Fireworks Unlimited owner Bob Hoffman, right, serves a customer Sunday. He says sales are steady through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Ian Kaufman,

THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay residents will miss out on the city’s usual Canada Day fireworks show this year, but it seems they’re making up for it with celebrations of their own. Local fireworks vendors say sales are booming through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s one of the craziest years we’ve ever had – I’ve been busier earlier than I ever have been before,” said Bill Groombridge, whose Pyroboyz business sells fireworks in the parking lot of the Arthur Street Marketplace mall.

“I’m guessing people are so tired of being locked up, the first chance to get out, they’re coming. That’s all I can attribute it to.”

Groombridge said the uptick in individual and family purchases has more than compensated for a decline in larger orders from resorts and other institutions.

“Some of my big shows we put together for resorts are cancelled because the border’s [closed],” he explained. “The offset of that is a lot of people coming in who have never done fireworks before, because there’s no big events going on.”

Over at the Fireworks Unlimited trailer, across from the Intercity Mall on Fort William Road, owner Bob Hoffman was seeing similar trends.

“More people want to do [fireworks] in their backyard, stay with small family gatherings – which is, I think, helping business.”

Business has been steady, he said, with lineups forming in recent days. Sales peak on Canada Day, which he expected to be very busy this year.

Packages, running from $150, are his biggest seller. Hoffman wasn’t offering another popular item, Chinese lanterns, due to fire concerns thanks to the dry conditions.

Both vendors urged customers to prioritize safety: mount fireworks securely (“If it feels like it can fall over, it will,” said Groombridge), keep spectators back, have a pail of water or fire extinguisher handy, watch for overhead trees or wires – and leave the alcohol until after the show.