Bill Starbuck of Ridgefield wears many hats. He owns an online men’s clothing business, another online business that sells Nantucket-themed collectibles, and he works as a business development manager with nearly 200 clients at the Network Support Company. But during this time of year, most people simply know Starbuck as the fireworks guy.
That’s because the grad (class of ‘92), owns and operates the Black Dragon Fireworks tent on Route 7 in Ridgefield. The tent, which pops-up two weeks prior to the 4th of July, has been drawing a loyal crowd of customers since he launched his fireworks business five years ago.
Starbucks said that neither poor weather nor shaky economic conditions have ever diminished his customers’ desire to celebrating July 4th with fireworks.
“I think Americans love fireworks because we are very patriotic and fireworks are an expression of that patriotism,” Starbucks said, “Even in this economy, my customers are still buying.” Neither does extreme weather impact his sales. “When it is raining hard, my customers still come, and heat doesn’t stop them either; they might come later in the day when it’s a little cooler— but they do come,” he said.
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With un-stymied sales, business has been good for Black Dragon Fireworks. So good, in fact in the five years since he first opened, Starbuck has grown his company from a single-tent operation to regional chain with 7 tent locations. He also supplies fireworks to 15 Connecticut gas stations.
But Starbuck admits that running the business wasn’t easy or profitable in the beginning. In the first year Black Dragon Fireworks had only one location which was losing money. “In the first year I over bought, under sold, and therefore started my second year of business carrying debt,” he said. Starbuck quickly learned to do better job forecasting sales, and the rest is history.
“Just the other day a customer told me I provide a service that is unmatched, and I think that’s because I’m always honest and I only sell the fireworks that I know work well—regardless of profit,” he said “My motto is 100 percent service with a smile.”