Local groups ignite fundraising with fireworks

<p>Max First and Preston Nelson look at some of their favorite fireworks to include the “Snow Cone,” which can fire anywhere from 16 to 40 shots, depending on the size.<p>Free Press/Patty DeckerWhether it’s supporting a non-profit group, earning extra money or selling privately, a fireworks stand can be a rewarding but tiring endeavor.

But for people like Scott Zogelman of Florence or Robert Rempel of Hilllsboro, it’s a labor of love. Both Zogelman and Rempel have their fireworks business inside air-conditioned buildings, which both agreed was the best for sellers and buyers.

Zogelman said he, and other volunteers, were selling for the PRIDE committee from June 28 through July 4.

Robert and Sara Rempel, and children Caleb, 17, Austin, 15, Katie, 13, Colton, 11, and Ethan, 7, all pitched in to help with their family business from June 27 through July 5.

“We had a job for everyone in the family,” Robert said, “and overall, we did well on sales.”

Now in their sixth year, the Rempel family purchased the business from Charlie Rempel, who isn’t related, Robert said.

For Zogelman, he said sales this year were slower than other years, but with July 4 falling on a Wednesday, he wasn’t too surprised or disappointed.

“Saturday [June 30], we did have a very good day,” he said. “Next year, July 4 is on a Thursday, but 2020 is a leap year, and July 4 will jump to Saturday.”

Robert Rempel said he has heard that when July 4 lands on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, sales can be slower than the weekend or even Monday.

Scott Zogelman, member of Florence PRIDE committee, shows one of the larger packages of fireworks called, “Big Attitude.” Free Press/Patty DeckerZogelman said they opened at 10 a.m. and closed at 10 p.m., and all the proceeds are earmarked for projects that benefit everybody in the community.

“PRIDE built Veteran’s Park, bought planters on Main Street and other projects people can enjoy,” he said.

Prior to the location on Main Street, Zogelman said they sold fireworks by U.S. Highway 50 at Moses Shane Park.

“The downside was we had to sleep with the fireworks or pack everything away each night and set it up again the next day,” he said. “The problem was it was difficult to know where items were placed from the day before.”

Probably like most stands in the county, both Zogelman and Rempel said they try to keep a variety of fireworks available for all ages.

“We have a lot of grandparents that like to buy everything all in one,” Zogelman said, “which is why we had little backpack-type fireworks available. In fact, someone asked if we had the backpacks, and he bought eight of them.”

Rempel also had a large inventory of artillery fireworks, which were shells that could be dropped into a tube one at a time.

“We also had tote bags filled with various fireworks and little assortments like 500-gram cakes that could shoot 15 to 40 shots,” he said. “Another big seller was the Snow Cone.”

One advantage Zogelman said he has over some fireworks stands is that the PRIDE committee buys their inventory and sets their own prices.

“We don’t set them too high and then go for half-price sales,” he said. “And, if we think we can make a deal, we can.”

Other fireworks stands in the area included groups working for a bigger supplier, he said, that were complete with cash register and barcodes, and groups would get a cut of the profits.

However stands were operated, Marion County residents enjoyed the fun and celebration of the holiday, which was evidenced by the “rockets red glare” prior to and on Independence Day.

For Zogelman, selling fireworks sure beats doing a bake sale seven times a year and was more fun and profitable.

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