Watson fireworks stores see decrease in sales following flooding, I-29 closures this spring

Posted at 6:18 PM, Jun 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-28 17:39:11-04

WATSON, Missouri (KMTV) — It's been more than 100 days since flooding affected the Omaha region.

Two months ago we brought viewers a story about communities in Atchison County, Missouri and how they've dealt with the flooding. Atchison County is home to more than five of the largest fireworks stores in the state. For the last 20 years, Staci Martin and her husband have owned Watson Fireworks in Watson, Missouri. Staci Martin said for being one week before the Fourth of July, the fireworks shop was quite quiet.

"I fully expect some of our long-time customers will be back this weekend but yeah it's very slow right now," Martin said.

In March, flooding came to Northwest Missouri, decimating Watson and surrounding communities.

"With all the other breaks that happened up north it had nowhere to go except follow the stream and head this direction," Martin said.

The Martin's family farm was flooded but their house stayed dry. However the warehouse where they kept fireworked flooded three inches deep.

"We were rushing to move trailers to higher ground, there was a mad rush to get extra people in and move the fireworks out," Martin said.

Watson Fireworks opened up for fireworks season on May 21. Nine days later, after I-29 closed down for the second time, the store shut their doors and didn't re-open until June 19. Martin said profits are 50-percent lower than this time last year.

"Typically the entire parking lot is full, I have a lot more employees working," Martin said. "As a matter of fact I had to send some home because they have nothing going on."

One of the biggest obstacles the Martin family is facing is the closure of I-29. With the interstate closed, profits are taking a hit.

"If you can't have customers getting here then you're just sunk and if you can't get here it's not worth it," Martin said. "We've lost a lot."

The store is open for one more week to coincide with the July 4 weekend. With I-29 up and running there's still time for a late sales push. No matter what, the Martin family will be back selling fireworks in 2020.

"I think that we will be able to hang in there," Martin said. "We're determined and we'll be back next year for sure, bigger and better hopefully."