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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published July 04 2012

Fireworks business booming in Oil Patch

WILLISTON, N.D. – Business was booming Wednesday at fireworks stands in the Oil Patch.

Jon Gayle, a salesman for Five Star Fireworks in Williston, said most of the shop’s business comes from oil field workers, and it’s not uncommon to see guys spend $3,000 to $4,000.

“The oil field workers come in expecting to spend money,” Gayle said. “They’re ready to drop a couple thousand and not blink an eye.”

Gayle, a truck driver and fireworks enthusiast, ended up with a part-time job at Five Star Fireworks after he stopped by the shop looking for Excalibur mortar shells, one of the largest shells available to civilians.

Gayle ran a fireworks shop in Wyoming for about six years, but the Williston shop’s sales far exceed what he saw there.

In Williston, Gayle’s top sale to one person was $2,700. The same day Gayle had three or four other $1,000 sales.

Dane Moore of Williston made his second shopping trip to Fire Star Fireworks on Wednesday to pick up some more Roman candles.

Moore, who sells and services hydraulic torqueing equipment with Alltite Total Bolting Solutions, set his fireworks budget at $1,000.

Moore, who is originally from Wichita, Kan., said prices for fireworks seemed a lot higher in Williston, but that hasn’t discouraged people from buying.

“I see people spending 3, 4 grand,” Moore said. “With the kind of money that’s made up here, you don’t really look at pricetags.”

Jake Sandstrom of Ray, N.D., who works as a consultant for Hess Corp., said he usually spends about $600 to $700 to set off fireworks for his four kids.

Down the street at Williston’s Generous Jerry’s shop, store manager David Fillmore has seen business there increase in the five years he’s operated it.

Fillmore, of Dover, Del., has sold fireworks for about 25 years and never had a shop completely sell out of fireworks until he started working in Williston.

“Because there’s money flowing here,” Fillmore said.

The shop began selling fireworks on June 27 and sold out of four products the first day. By Tuesday the selection was getting limited.

At Fire Star Fireworks, Gayle expected to see a late-night rush of business Wednesday from people who ran out of fireworks.

For most people, the appeal of fireworks is the thrill of the explosion, along with outdoing the guy next door, Gayle said.

“I get a lot of people that say ‘This guy bought this. What’s bigger?’” Gayle said.


Dalrymple is a Forum Communications reporter stationed in the Oil Patch.

She can be reached at adalrymple@forumcomm.com or (701) 580-6890.