Running a successful fireworks stand is a lot like trying to sell a house. If you’ve got a great home in a bad location, good luck on trying to find a buyer who will pay the asking price.
The same goes for your stand — you need to find a good location. In the seasonal fireworks game, location is a big part of your marketing and operating plan. The location of your operation will affect several aspects of what and how you run your business.
Over the next few minutes, we’re going to take a look at why location matters so much.
The Visibility Factor
A great marketing plan is all about getting your product in front of people. If your stand is located off a busy road or intersection, that may be all the marketing you need. People driving to and from work will see your stand twice a day, and, most likely, they’ll stop by your business if they want fireworks .
Tip: Make sure you set up your tent as soon as your permit allows. If you want more details about local laws and permits, head to the American Pyrotechnics Association’s state-laws page.
The Cleanliness Factor
How clean your site will be has a lot to do with where it’s at. If you’re in a major shopping area, more foot traffic will most likely lead to more litter and dirt. A shabby-looking business is bad business; you want a tidy, well-kept stand. Keep the cleanliness factor in mind as you select a location.
The Legal Factor
As we mentioned in the first part of our series, local laws will dictate if you can open, when you can open, what you can sell and several other factors.
Take the proper steps to get your permits and register your business. Why? Because most counties take fireworks sales very seriously, and as such you’ll probably talk with the local fire marshal at least once during the course of the selling season.
You want to be on the good side of the law. If you aren’t (for example, if you don’t get the right permits), you can expect to be on the fire marshal’s radar and get more inspections than usual.
Also, it’s important to remember fireworks is a competitive business. Other operators are looking for a chance to get ahead. They’ve been known to spot violations in competitors’ stands and call the fire marshal.
The Parking Factor
Parking is important, but just as important as having the space for customers’ cars is situating that space so egress to and from the road is easy.
You don’t want your customers driving by and thinking it’s too much of a hassle to pull into an overcrowded parking lot, nor do you want to clog up a busy road because you haven’t planned entries and exits well.
The Amenities Factor
We mentioned this aspect of your business in our previous post about getting started, but we want to take it a little more in depth here. Your location is going to determine what you need in terms of lighting and power. If you’re setting up shop in a seasonal storefront location, there’s a good chance you’ll have sufficient power and lighting.
However, if you’re setting up on an empty lot next to a busy intersection, what you gain in a great location may be lost in your need to find power and lighting.
And think about this, too … if you’re using a mobile payment system like Square, where will you plug your phone or tablet in to charge it?
So, once you choose your location, take a few hours to think through what you need. Power strips and extension cords are usually mandatory. You might need a generator, too, but that doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a new one from Lowe’s or Home Depot.
Ask friends or family if they have one you can borrow. Do the same for the folding tables you use in your stand.
It’s nice to buy new things for your stand, but every penny you spend in this area is one penny less you make at the end of the season.
The Rental Factor
Rent is a tricky part of your business. Let’s say you want to save on amenities costs, so you decide to rent out a seasonal space in a strip mall that also has a couple of big-box stores and outlet-style clothing properties. True, you might save on a generator and extra lighting, but because the strip mall is a high-traffic area, you’re going to pay more in rent.
And here’s the thing: what you pay in rent you’ll never get back. It’s a sunk cost.
Weigh these factors when your calculating your budget. A vacant property on a busy road may be cheaper, but remember that it doesn’t generate the same foot traffic a strip mall will. Another factor to keep in mind is that leases for bigger properties where there are multiple retailers will be more in depth. Make sure you read over all the terms and conditions. Ask as many questions as you can.
Tip: When you’re talking with landlords, pitch the benefits of your business and remind them your presence will be a positive for their foot traffic.
The Insurance Factor
Let’s say you’ve got an outdoor location and a serious rain storm hammers your stand. Water is running under your tables and through major foot-traffic areas. One of your customers slips on the wet ground and breaks their arm. What do you do?
This scenario is exactly why you’ll need to buy a liability insurance policy for your business. Coverage will safeguard you from having to pay medical costs for an injured customer or employee. One bad accident could negate your profits.
Usually, the fireworks companies who sell you your product can also sell you insurance. Make sure you read the policy closely; the small details will matter.
Tip: Insurance doesn’t cover stolen or damaged product, so have a solid security plan in place.
The Competitor Factor
We’ve talked about this before, but we want to revisit it one more time. Having a competitor nearby can cause some serious problems for two reasons.
First, they’re going to cut into your profits, especially if they’ve been around for a while and locals already know about them. Second, you may have to drop your asking price if their prices are lower than yours. Most fireworks consumers have limited knowledge of products and can be swayed by price more than anything else.
Tip: Head to the local courthouse and search the records for approved fireworks permits. This will tell you who is setting up shop and where.
Looking Ahead: Choosing Products and Pricing
Our first three posts in this series cover all the basics you’ll need to know as you plan your fireworks stand. In our next post, we’re going to get into the details of your product. This is probably one of the most exciting topics, and rightly so.
But before you go out and plunk down a couple of thousand dollars on fireworks, you’ll need to consider a few things. Read our product post to learn more.