Come celebrate with a legend…
What makes a store an institution? Longevity, sure. But there’s always something more. A spark. Panache. Or in this case, a bang.
Bob Leff has been in the fireworks trade for almost 60 years, making him one of the oldest independent fireworks retailers in Canada. From his early days at Crystal Beach in Fort Erie, Bob has operated Bob’s Fireworks at various locations across Fort Erie and London. Why has Bob survived in the industry for so long? Simple: He loves it, and his customers love coming to someone with his knowledge and passion. That’s what keeps them coming back year after year. “Fireworks take people back to their youth,” Bob says. “Fireworks mean that the summer is coming. The kids are out of school; it’s a chance for neighbours to get together. Kids young and old, that’s what fireworks are all about."
Fireworks season is bittersweet for the Leffs; Bob’s beloved wife Marjorie Wheeler-Leff (affectionately known as “Mrs. Bob”) passed away in 2018, and her absence is always keenly felt at every holiday. Bob and his family celebrate Marjorie’s life and legacy through a foundation in her name that supports worthwhile causes in London, and Bob is proud to be matching up to a total of $20,000 in donations made this year to the Marjorie Wheeler-Leff Foundation. Over the years, Bob has raised over $30,000 for Children’s Hospital, and looks forward to upping the ante in the years to come.
After over 50 years, what about the future? Bob’s Fireworks has consolidated into one large location in London at Southdale just east of Wharncliffe, behind Tiger Jack’s restaurant. The Comet and the Wild Mouse may be gone from Crystal Beach, but lots of Americans make Bob’s their first stop when they come over to celebrate their July Holiday with their Canadian friends on the Canadian side. Bob’s love for fireworks rubbed off on his son Mike, who has been managing the store’s retail operations for almost twenty years. "It's pretty cool working with the kids and grandkids of my dad's customers going way back,” Mike says. “It's a real family tradition we are proud to be a part of."
And of course, there’s this fancy website you’re looking at, which is brand new for 2020. Whether you’re a fireworks ninja or looking for some advice for your first backyard event, Bob and his family look forward to being part of your holiday traditions whether they’re new, old, or anywhere in between.