Jun 012009

Terry and I have been very lucky in that our business has allowed us live our dreams and have a life that many people envy. We’ll never be rich, if you measure riches in terms of dollars, but we get to go where we want, see interesting things and beautiful places, and meet wonderful people.

We really don’t have the time to take on any other jobs, but I can’t help browsing through the pages of Workamper News and thinking “That might be fun to do!”

Last week while we were at the Escapade rally in Sedalia, Missouri, we talked to some friends who are going to be selling fireworks for a couple of weeks leading up to the Fourth of July. They gave me the name of their contact at the fireworks company, and I called just to see how it all works.

Basically, as the company representative explained it to me, they have specific locations arranged, sometimes a lot on a busy corner, sometimes part of a WalMart parking lot or some other high traffic business. The company sets up a tent and delivers a load of fireworks about the third week of June. The contracted dealers, many of whom are RVers, sell from the stand through July 5th or 6th, and then whatever inventory remains is returned to a nearby company warehouse. The dealer gets 20% of all of the money they take in.

I was told by some people that have experience in such things that different companies have different contracts, and some pay a guarantee plus commission. We have met several RVers who pick up extra money selling fireworks, Christmas trees, and pumpkins at roadside stands. It is hard work, you are expected to be open 12 hours a day for two weeks or more, and you are responsible for any theft. The tent must be lighted at night to prevent theft, and the dealer is expected to either use their RV generator to power the lights, or rent a generator.

How much you make depends on your location. At one spot the company had in Connecticut, the representative said we could expect to clear $4500. At another, in southern Michigan, I was told to expect to make about $3,000.

That sounded like a lot of money for just a couple of weeks’ work, until I crunched the numbers. The Michigan commitment would require us to spend a day or two receiving the inventory and getting it set up, 15 days of sales, and then at least another day to pack all of the inventory up and get it back to the warehouse.

Just the 15 days of sales, at 12 hours a day per person for the two of us was a deal breaker. That is $200 a day, or $100 each. $100 divided by 12 hours is $8.33 an hour. And that does not include the time involved in receiving and setting up the inventory, fuel for a generator to light the tent at night, rental of a credit card machine and cash register, as well as a few other expenses the job required, or the time to pack everything up and take it back to the warehouse. It also did not factor in the loss due to theft, or heaven forbid, if we got robbed.

Even if we would have been willing to invest the time, that is when our next issue of the Gypsy Journal is due to be printed and mailed, so we would not have had the time anyway.

I’m curious if any of you blog readers have sold fireworks, Christmas trees or pumpkins, and how it worked out for you. Care to share your experiences?

Thought For The Day – Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  4 Responses to “Selling Fireworks”

  1. We haven’t sold any of those things, but are interested for the future. Thanks for doing the math. I do know that during wheat harvest out here in the west, a good combine operator gets $100 a day and sometimes more. You get to sit in air conditioned comfort with good radio stations and/or CDs playing. You get to be pretty much alone, only dealing with the other members of the crew. Generally your meals are provided for you and even brought to the field. No gas required – just show up to work every day.

    This used to be my summer job and I loved it. We did have instances though, where a driver would just walk off and leave his whole rig in the field. Usually they couldn’t deal with the loneliness. They would hitch hike home, usually somewhere back east:-)

    The pay was good and the best part, you didn’t have any time or place to spend any of it until the job was done. So – you worked long, hard days and nights and at the end of a month or so, you had a nice chunk of money:-)

  2. Hmmm. Sounds good to me. I could work side by side with my honey for maybe three weeks and we could earn enough to pay for having my hair done weekly, a manicure and pedicure each month for a whole year. Bill could get his hair cut once a month and we would still have leftovers. Yup, might have to look into it before we leave South Dakota.


  3. We did christmas trees for two years back about 6 years ago. It went on from Thanksgiving to Christmas eve, 12-14 hours a day, every day. I figured we made about $4.35 a hour…working with the public is a pain…most of them are nice, but the rude ones make up for the nice ones. NEVER AGAIN!!!!

  4. My husband and I have been selling fireworks for three years- this will be our third year. It’s hard, hot work but worth it to us. Last year we made $7800.00 for about two weeks of work. Not bad. The company we work for provides the tent, the fireworks and handles getting the location and business liceanse. They reimburse us for the gas we use and provide the generator. I’m sure we’ve suffered some shop lifting but it hasn’t been a big issue. At night my husband sleeps in the tent. It makes me very, very nervous but he’d rather do that than take everything down and set up everyday. We don’t have an RV. Last year a friend lent us theirs and this year we’ll just rent a port-a-potty. Luckily my family lives nearby so we can use their home for breaks. We do have to hire some help, wich comes out of our pocket but it’s worth it to us.

    My dad sold Christmas trees one year and says he’ll never do it again. He lost money on the venture. However, there is a guy in our area that makes a lot every year doing that. He makes a big deal out of it though- has a salmon bake and lots of fun activities. It’s “the” place to go to get a tree. He makes it an experience. I think for most holidays, besides the 4th, you have to stand out. For the 4th- it’s pretty easy money- and everybody, EVERYBODY, buys fireworks.

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