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50+ Year Fireworks Business a Family Affair

Fleek's Fireworks in Doniphan County has been an Independence Day staple for more than 50 years. Three generations of Fleeks have worked at the store as the business gets passed from generation to generation.
(DONIPHAN COUNTY, Kan.) For many families, it's a tradition to go out on the 4th of July and buy fireworks together.

For the Fleek family of Doniphan County, Kansas, their ritual is selling fireworks.

Fleek Fireworks, located just west of Wathena, has been a fixture in the area for more than 50 years.

Sam Osburn, a nephew to current owner Bob Fleek, spent much of his 4th of July working.

"Jim Fleek started doing this 50 years ago. He borrowed money from his dad to start selling fireworks on just a couple tables out front in the barn," Osburn said. "It's expanded to this over the years."

Fleek's isn't just your average mom and pop fireworks stand. They have a selection of more than 800 items.

"4th of July is one of the most fun holidays beyond what we're celebrating," Osburn said. "It's time for family to get together and eat together and shoot fireworks together and be happy. I'm glad we can be a part of that."

Jill Fleek is Bob Fleek's wife and also spends a lot of time around the store. She says one of the perks of owning a fireworks stand is being able to test out the product.

"About every evening about 10 o'clock the kids go around and pick out whatever they want to blow up and we go out and watch fireworks then."

The family likes their fireworks almost as much as they love their loyal customers.

"We've got a lot of people who come from all over," Jill Fleek said. "They come here that have always been coming here for years.

"I've been shopping here since I was a baby," said Crystal Coakley, who is also an employee at Fleek's. "This is my 28th year buying my fireworks here."

Coakley loves the fact that Fleek's is family-owned and operated.

It's really great working with the family and you get to know everybody up from the old guys down to the little kids who are helping us bag," she said. "It makes it a fun atmosphere."

Whether it's shopping for fireworks or selling them, the 4th of July is a family affair.

"It's a great time of year to see everyone come in here with happy kids pulling stuff off the shelves," Osburn said.

Fleek's is located three miles west of Wathena on Highway 36.

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