Families, friends sell fireworks at area stands
By ANGIE HAFLICH
Running fireworks stands is both a family and friend affair in Garden City.
"All the stands are related, pretty much, except for Wholesale and a stand from Syracuse. So those (other stands) are all our cousins," Dawnette Meinert, Topeka, said.
Meinert comes back to Garden City every year to help run her Uncle Rick and Aunt Soni Brimm's stand on East U.S. Highway 50.
Even Meinert's 4-year-old daughter, Aveah McGlory, was carrying on the family tradition, doing her part by swatting flies.
Meinert said the Brimms, both of Garden City, have been selling fireworks for more than 30 years and used to have a stand on the east and west side of town, but consolidated the stands into one a few years ago.
"It was easier to just have one big stand and have everyone over here," Meinert said.
With seven people and four children stocking the stand last week, Meinert said it still took about five hours. She said the grand finale that takes place after Friday, which is the last day fireworks can be sold or shot off, is the best part of the whole week.
"My uncle buys his own stuff to pop. On the 5th, he just goes crazy," she said, laughing.
Another cousin of Meinert's, Jennifer Kemp-Espinosa, along with her parents, Phil and Pam Kemp, all of Garden City, run four fireworks stands each year. On Tuesday, 16-year-old Nailen Rincones, a son of one of Kemp-Espinosa's friends, was helping run the Kemp's stand located on East U.S. Highway 50 near El Maguey Club.
He said mornings are slow, but that it picks up during the evening hours. He said the biggest sellers are the aerials.
"Probably the artillery shells, the ones that shoot up in the air, are the most popular. The 500-gram cakes (aerials) are pretty good, too. They put on a show," he said.
Kemp-Espinosa said the family makes a decent amount of extra income from running the stands each year.
"It just depends on the year. Some years are really good and some years are, you know, so-so," she said.
Her aunt, Paula Lang, also operates a stand on West Jones Avenue.
Kemp-Espinosa said the fact that all the stands are locally-owned keeps money in the community.
Andy and Cherri Eck, Sublette, own and operate another fireworks stand, Wholesale Fireworks, on the U.S. Highway 50 bypass between Campus Drive and Third Street.
Cherri Eck said her daughter, Karissa Prentice, and son, Peyton Nelson, have been helping with the store for several years.
The Ecks also have locations in Sublette and Dodge City, but the Garden City spot is offering something special this year, a firework that benefits families of military service men and women killed or disabled in action.
Wholesale Fireworks is offering a 500-gram red, white, and blue special firework, Folds of Honor, at a special price of $30. For each Folds of Honor firework sold, $10 will go directly to scholarship opportunities to children and spouses of fallen and wounded service men and women. The scholarships are used to subsidize the costs of tuition, school books, fees, room and board, and any other educational expense that a student's school may deem appropriate and otherwise unmet. The Folds of Honor Foundation has provided assistance to 2,600 scholarship recipients, to date, according to a press release.
"It does red, white and blue. It does the stars and the red — it's really pretty," Eck said, adding that they are stocked with about 60 of them.