Every year I give fireworks shopping tips in case anyone in the St. Louis area is in the mood to explore the exciting realm of pyrotechnics. I started blogging about the different tents because, given my love of fireworks, I would typically visit at least one location of every fireworks seller in St. Charles on a given year. I love seeing all the different varieties of fireworks, and inevitably, each company carries a little different selection. This year, other things demanded my time, so instead of visiting every tent, I took my own advice and simply visited the very best.
As an aside, if you are curious about the business of selling fireworks, I interviewed Chris Sander, the owner of “powder monkey FIREWORKS,” late last month on Open for Business. Chris offered some really astute insights into what it is like to run a fireworks tent and — more generally — what it takes to get a business off the ground. His observations are excellent and well worth pursuing.
Since Chris opened his tent in 2008, I make it a point to visit “powder monkey” several times each year. He has some absolutely incredible deals and a very knowledgable staff who have personally seen most of the fireworks they sell. As an added bonus, each night around 9:11 p.m., Chris shoots off a large variety of fireworks, offering his customers a way to “try before they buy.” I was able to catch his demonstration tonight, out of which three really caught my attention: “Attack,” an affordable multi-shot that was impressive in its duration and the size of its effects; “Peacock,” a long lasting and vibrant fountain; and, a rather generically labeled (but impressive) red, white and blue 36-shot peony that would make a nice finale. Every year, I find some new favorites here, making it hard to decide just what to get. I plan to figure out what I have left from last year and then go back.
This year, “powder monkey” is located in three locations — two in Weldon Spring, MO (St. Charles County) and one in Arnold, MO (Jefferson County, just outside of St. Louis County). Check out their site if you want directions to stop by.
A year or two before “powder monkey” opened its proverbial doors, I found Red Dragon. Tim Clayton and his staff have always been kind and helpful, too. Whereas “powder monkey” has served to get me to try all kinds of new things that have been demoed or recommended, Red Dragon carries a number of long time family favorites I've always had a hard time finding elsewhere, including “Just 2 Cool,” “Havana Heat” and “Just Another Stinkin Fountain” (astute asisaid readers will recall that “Just Another” is one of my longest running favorites).
As I wrote last year:
I was at both of them tonight and it was like seeing old friends again. Both have wonderful personal touches and enthusiasm for the fireworks. You can tell these people actually love shooting off fireworks, not necessarily a given at every tent, and have seen the fireworks they are selling. They also both carry a very good selection of fountains and other affordable yet satisfying choices.
Unfortunately, that description certainly doesn't fit just every fireworks tent out there. So, do not just assume the first tent you pass is worth patronizing. Year after year “powder monkey” and Red Dragon have never failed to impress me; I trust if you go to these guys and ask for advice that they'll steer you in the right direction.