The big earner this year was the Tracy African American Association, which grossed between $80,000 and $90,000, according to association officials.
The smallest amount was raised by Helpful Hearts Foundation, which was collecting money for No Place Like Home Animal Rescue. That booth took in about $28,000 in gross sales, said a rescue representative.
Many nonprofit leaders involved in this year’s “safe and sane” fireworks sales said that their locations played a big role in their success or shortcomings.
Nonprofits selected their booth spots in the order they were chosen during the lottery that doled out fireworks selling rights. The locations were based upon where the fireworks provider, in this case TNT Fireworks, made agreements with property owners to erect their booths.
When choosing a booth location, some nonprofit officials said they based their decisions on amounts raised during 2011 sales — that gamble proved successful for some, and not so successful for others.
When TAAA picked its booth location as the only one on the south side of town in the Save Mart parking lot at 875 S. Tracy Blvd., President Howard Baker Jr. believed they would do well based on the Tracy Learning Center-Millennium Charter High School raising $70,000 in sales at the same spot in 2011.
“We were super pleased,” said Baker. “We did great, had a lot of fun and met our goal.”
He said the TAAA plans to use the money for high school senior scholarships.
Representatives from Helpful Hearts and Tracy Interfaith Ministries, on the other hand, said their sales were low in part because they were clumped too close to each other along North Tracy Boulevard, with booths at 3225 N. Tracy Blvd., 2513 N. Tracy Blvd.
The Get Real Behind the Wheel booth was also in the neighborhood, at 2005 N. Tracy Blvd.
“We thought we were going in the third best location,” Interfaith Director Darlene Quinn said. “We knew that Walmart was number one, and West High School really wanted the mall, but we still thought it (2513 N. Tracy Blvd.) would be better than it was. But three (booths) in a row this year… so close together, that might have had an effect on it (sales).”
The Interfaith group grossed about $44,000, just behind Real Behind the Wheel, which tallied a little less than $50,000 in gross sales, according to officials from each of the afore-mentioned nonprofits.
Quinn said Interfaith will use its money to buy back-to-school backpacks and supplies for local children.
Get Real Behind the Wheel Vice President Tom Simpson said his group will buy items for the nonprofit’s teen driving school.
Simpson was happy with Get Real’s sale results, but said the low profit compared to that of some other booths might be attributed to the Fourth of July falling on a Wednesday and people lacking disposable income.
“I don’t think we did quite the volume (we thought),” Simpson said. “Overall I think we could have done better. First time doing it — I wish we could have been a little busier. Definitely try it again.”
According to Tracy Fire Division Chief Dave Bramell, who conducted the lottery to pick this year’s nine lottery winners and three alternate groups, the city had no involvement in selecting booth locations. He said the locations were listed on the nonprofits’ applications when they were submitted following the lottery and before the sales began.
Several nonprofit officials said TNT representatives contacted them after the lottery to see if they wanted to sign a contract to sell their fireworks and collect a portion of the profits, as well as pay for booth-related supplies such as credit card machines.
All the nonprofits involved in this year’s sale signed with TNT instead of Phantom Fireworks, which supplied three of the nine groups in 2011.
Tracy Cougars Football and Cheer Treasurer Gina Gandall said her group, which grossed the second-most of any Tracy seller this year with $66,000, was fortunate to land a booth at 1900 W. Grant Line Road.
“We really lucked out,” Gandall said. “It was very slow the first five days, but the Fourth of July was just off the hook. We were getting ready to pack up around 6:30 p.m. (July 3), and all of a sudden we were flooded with people, nonstop. It was crazy, but we survived.”
Craig Saaiwaechter, spokesman for McHenry House Tracy Family Shelter said his group grossed $63,000 in fireworks sales at the Walmart parking lot, which met their goal to fund the shelter’s operating expenses. He said they were shocked to hear numerous buyers saying they came to their booth because the shelter helped them in the past.
“I almost cried,” he said. “It’s a family organization, and families respect that and they want to pay back. We’re happy. We’ll take every dollar we can get.”
Youth pastor Jack Scialabba of Victory Christian Church said his group made $31,000 in sales on July Fourth at 1292 W. 11th St., more than half its overall total.
Scialabba said it was a tough week selling from June 28 through July 4 to gross a total of $56,000. He said the church officials — who plan to spend the money to help the church’s food pantry and youth group — wished they had approval to sell for two consecutive years, considering the learning curve involved in operating a booth.
One group that expected its location to be a huge advantage was the West High Homefield Advantage Booster Club, which picked the West Valley Mall at 3200 Naglee Road. In the end, the boosters finished sixth overall, with $48,000 in gross sales.
Treasurer Esther “Becky” Silva expected to raise more for the 14 participating youth sports teams based on figures from 2011 sales.
She agreed with Simpson on the mid-week issue and said it’s possible the novelty of the activity has worn off since fireworks were legalized in Tracy in 2011.
“We would do it again,” she said. “It’s worth it — just you really have to have the manpower behind you to run it.”
Another group with low numbers this year was the Tracy Chamber of Commerce, at 430 W. 11th St. Spokeswoman Sofia Valenzuela said the chamber took in about $30,000 in gross sales, the profits from which will be used to embellish events such as the wine stroll and Tracy Dry Bean Festival.