Late shoppers get bang for bucks

Suquamish resident Carol Estes hit the fireworks jackpot on Wednesday afternoon. She planned on a late family celebration as her grandchildren were out of town on the Fourth. - Tad Sooter/Staff Photo
Suquamish resident Carol Estes hit the fireworks jackpot on Wednesday afternoon. She planned on a late family celebration as her grandchildren were out of town on the Fourth.
— image credit: Tad Sooter/Staff Photo

SUQUAMISH — The Chiquiti family fireworks stand was down to its last package of bottle rockets Wednesday.

The sparklers were long gone. Roman candles were up in smoke.

Still, the stand’s neon Open signs were luring bargain-hungry customers into the dusty lot.

Suquamish resident Larry, who declined to give his last name, picked through Chiquiti’s dwindling inventory in search of his favorite summer explosive, the “Black Mamba.”

“M-A-M-B-A,” Larry said. “These things go up, I don’t know, 70 feet? And they spread and there’s a big report.”

Chiquiti, on the corner of Suquamish Way and State Route 305, was the last Suquamish fireworks stand open this week. Like other stands along the highway, Chiquiti put on a half-price sale after the Fourth to sell off the last of its inventory.

“You have to come the day after to get the really good deals,” Larry said. “But it’s still worth it, the value is still there.”

Behind the Chiquiti counter, Jose Martinez, 24, said sales seemed a little better than in 2009.

Martinez said customers were fixated on the down economy last year and were reluctant to drop money on displays.

“That kind of faded away,” Martinez said. “That didn’t seem to happen this year.”

West on 305, a crew was cleaning out George’s firework stand. Dave McEwen said the stand was sold out by 6 p.m. on the Fourth of July.

“They did better than fair,” he said.

Fireworks sales were strong this Fourth of July, but North Kitsap fire departments reported a relatively quiet holiday weekend. North Kitsap Fire and Rescue responded to five calls on Sunday, none were related to fireworks, spokeswoman Michele Laboda said. North Kitsap Fire’s call volume throughout the weekend was less than half what it was in 2009, when hot weather forced an outdoor burn ban by July 8.

Poulsbo Fire Department fielded seven calls on the Fourth, none caused by fireworks, Battalion Chief Bruce Peterson said.

The fireworks aren’t over yet.

Suquamish resident Carol Estes stopped at the Chiquiti stand Wednesday determined to recreate Fourth of July magic. Her grandchildren, ages 2 to 5, were out of town for the Fourth and missed the fireworks. Estes decided to put on her own family show but discovered she was almost too late.

“I was in a panic because everything was closed,” she said.

Estes left the Chiquiti stand with a stack of colorful boxes and a look of relief.

“We’re going to have a brief but brilliant little display,” she said.

For Martinez, relief will come when the inventory runs out and he can close the stand’s plywood shutters for the summer. Chiquiti opened around Memorial Day but sales didn’t start popping until the Independence Day weekend.

Martinez sold hundreds of boxes of fireworks but never saw a display.

“While everyone else is out having their Fourth of July, I’m here selling fireworks,” Martinez said. “But it’s all right, it’s worth it. Sometimes you have to work while other people are having fun.”

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