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StarBulletin.com

Fireworks retailers optimistic


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POSTED: Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fireworks retailers are still expecting sales to pop despite the sagging economy.

“;People here in Hawaii are going to celebrate New Year's Eve and spend whatever it takes to have a great celebration,”; said Beau Leach, who owns five fireworks sales tents on Oahu.

Yesterday was the first day of legal fireworks sales in Hawaii.

At Don Quijote on Kaheka Street, Kavin Kikuy, 21, said he would spend the same amount on fireworks this year—about $500, but would spend more if he didn't need a permit for firecrackers.

“;I like the loud kind stuff,”; he said. “;It's the only thing I probably blow my money on.”;

“;Sales are brisk,”; said Larry Lomaz, chief financial officer for Pacific Fireworks, which sells fireworks in Aiea and Waipahu.

Lomaz said he's keeping prices the same as last year despite a 20 percent increase in ocean freight costs from China.

“;I think people are cutting loose just a little bit,”; Leach said, adding that his company slashed prices this year to encourage people to buy more fireworks.

Leach said he didn't open his Golden Dragon Fireworks tents yesterday, in part because of a break-in at their fireworks storage facility on Christmas Eve.

Thieves broke into four containers at a warehouse near the airport, he said.

Devlin Taylor, a salesman for a Golden Dragon Fireworks tents on the corner of Dillingham Boulevard and King Street in Kalihi, said the Secret Service asked what was stolen because of the potential threat to the president, who is vacationing in Kailua.

Leach said he's hoping his tent sales will take market share away from larger retailers.

“;Fireworks in Hawaii are just dominated by the big boys,”; he said, referring to Walmart, Don Quijote and other large chains.

At Don Quijote, the two aisles of fireworks were crowded with shoppers yesterday.

Kalihi Valley resident Vince, who declined to give his last name, said he will buy less fireworks this year to save money because both he and his son are going to college.

Still, he plans to spend about $300 in fireworks, including illegal aerials. He said he noticed aerials are more available this year.

“;I have the spirit of New Year's,”; he said. “;All the neighbors, they have fireworks. You feel like, what's New Year's without fireworks?”;