Business Q & A

5 Questions with Jacob Marietta

Jacob Marietta is the latest in a four-generation line of fireworks sellers.

Marietta, 30, is the operating partner of Wholesale Fireworks, the state's biggest retailer of fireworks. The family bought the business at 159th Street East and Kellogg six years ago.

In late June it blossoms into nearly 200 locations throughout Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas. Typically, local charities staff the tents and get a piece of the proceeds.

In the Wichita area, the family also owns Spooky Jake's Halloween store in Haysville and turns its Andover headquarters into a party rental place called Jumpy Jump Land in the off-season.

How big is Wholesale Fireworks?

"We have 10 air-conditioned buildings, and the rest are tents.... The company was here before we took it over, of course, but we've grown it since we took over."

How's business this year?

"The main fact this year has been the dryness. In Texas, burning in 56 counties has been banned. Oklahoma has had quite few counties banned, and Kansas does, too. The weather is the determining factor in this business. We have been lucky in the last few weeks with rain to really green things up, which keeps us from being in that situation."

What's the biggest fireworks you sell?

"There are artillery shells, reloadables. Also we have 500-gram kegs. That's the most the law will allow. They sit right on the limit. We have some with eight monster breaks."

What's your favorite kind of fireworks?

"I'm true blue pyromaniac. I love shooting artillery shells, but I also love tanks and snappers as much as any 5-year-old."

What do you do the other 51 weeks of the year?

"Mainly we're preparing for fireworks season. We do inventory and then, in August, I go to China to purchase and test next year's products."

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