Tim Bachtle, owner of Vapor of Smoke, a fireworks retailer with stands at two Rochester Hy-Vee locations, works the tent at the Crossroads store (500 Crossroads Drive SW) while his son, Ben, 29, works the one at Hy-Vee North (500 37th St. NW).
Tim Bachtle is a minister at Victory Christian Church in Owatonna. The family-owned fireworks business, now 16 years running, raises money for ministries.
The quality of the fireworks he sells is important to his reputation, Bachtle says. Among his favorites are a few 200-gram fireworks (500 grams is the largest size allowed under Minnesota state law).
“Little Big Show, it’s crazy,” Bachtle said. “It’s one of Black Cat’s best fireworks ever. Pizzazz is very colorful, a good, fun show. Stinger has little fireflies going all over the place and is a best seller. Go Bananas made it to the table for the first time.”
He also carries 500-gram fireworks, with his best deal being Fortune Soldier. It lasts for more than three minutes and retails for $30.
Plans are for the two locations to be open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through July 5. Often on July 5th, Vapor of Smoke will hold a big sale of all leftover fireworks.
“Last year, we sold out on July 4,” Bachtle said. For the best selection, he recommends purchasing fireworks by July 2 or 3.
“We just received some of the 4th of July items from Vineyard Vines,” said Louise Hanson, co-owner of Collections and The Nordic Shop. “The 4th of July Polo for men is perfect for the best outdoor party of the year.”
The polo is 100 percent cotton, retails for $89.50 and can be found at the Collections store in the Shops at University Square. Also available in the Collections store are Vineyard Vines flag ties, boxers, women’s tees and sweatshirts.
“Vineyard Vines is a Northeastern clothing company founded by two brothers who decided that Wall Street was not for them,” Hanson said.
At Hunt’s Silver Lake Pharmacy, in the Proud, Brave and Free line of items they carry, which are made in the USA by a veteran-owned company, is a metal plaque expressing some patriotic pride.
“In this home, we do Family, we do Country, we do Freedom,” it says. The plaque is 8.5 inches wide and 16 inches high.
Celebrate patriotic pride by giving
Running Start for School, a program that provides free school supplies to students most in need kicked off a couple of weeks ago. Organizers anticipate that 8,400 students in Olmsted County will need backpacks and school supplies for the 2015-16 school year.
Along with various locations in Rochester, the following stores are drop-off sites for Running Start for School: Hunt’s Silver Lake Pharmacy, Wal-Mart South (starting July 6), Walgreens on Civic Center Drive and Fish and Pets in the Crossroads Shopping Center.
When I asked Miranda Halling, school supplies drive outreach assistant, what the program is most in need of, she said, “We never get enough backpacks for middle school students. We need 189,000 pencils and, of course, we need plain notebooks and folders.”
They are able to distribute only plain notebooks and folders, not any with prints on them.
“We’ve been a drop station for years and we continue to feel the importance of kids having the supplies they need,” said Tom Otten, store manager of Hunt’s Silver Lake, a location that has been a Running Start for School drop-off site for a number of years.
See the full list of supplies needed at tinyurl.com/o83tnfo.
If your family is in need of school supplies, visit uwolmsted.org/runningstarteligibility for more information.