Black Market Fireworks, Joplin, MO
Winco customer since 1978
Like many fireworks business owners, Aaron Colson grew up “in” the family business. His father, Vic Colson, started the company and retired from the business after a lifetime career in the fireworks industry. Aaron and his wife, Heather, intend to pass the legacy on to their daughters someday,
What’s some of your earliest memories of working in your family’s business?
Our original tent location near 32nd and Main in Joplin (and seasonally has been in about the same location since 1971) was close enough that I could ride my bike from home to work the tent. When I was 15, I managed that location by myself along with the help from a couple of my friends. As kids with our own “big” ideas on how to run the tent, we somehow managed to actually increase sales despite when the side flaps went down at closing time, we didn’t necessarily go to sleep and thankfully we never got into any trouble!
What’s the history of your family fireworks business?
My dad was in the landscape and nursery business in the early 1970’s and decided to try and add firework sales for some extra income after the busy spring season. My dad and his partner ran the first fireworks tent for many years, then my grandparents ran it for a few years; then I eventually took over that location, and my daughters Claire and Carmen now run that exact same location! That’s four generations! Even though my dad has been retired for 10 years or so, we love that he still comes around the office and warehouse, offering ideas and reminding us “how things need to be done.”
And there’s even more family involved. My wife Heather started running locations back in the early 1990’s; then her parents ran a few spots for several years. Her brother and his wife did the same a few years after that. My brother, Victor, and his son, Cooper, are involved in the business in various ways. My mom, Sheryl, helps keep us all fueled and comes to the warehouse to bring large lunches or pops in with drinks and treats.
What has changed in the industry throughout the years?
A lot has improved and changed over the years – better tents, better online presence, better product packaging, adding the wholesale side of the business, etc. – but for the most part, it’s the same business it has always been. I’m particularly proud of my two daughters, and I’m even learning a little bit about business from them as well for example, marketing ideas on social media, Snapchat, Instagram. It’s been really cool to see my girls who started out “working” at a fireworks tent from their strollers to running their own locations today. Claire is at University of Arkansas majoring in business and Carmen is a sophomore at McAuley Catholic High School in Joplin. They’ve done just about every job you could think of at the warehouse and at their tent – ringing up customers, stocking, making family packs, helping at Demo-nights, running the forklift, helping make deliveries, sweeping, and on and on!
Some Favorite items over the years: Red Rats, Cuckoos, Over and Under, Warp Speed, and Black Cat Diablo