Fireworks help bring in new year with blast

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008

For many, there is no better way to ring in the New Year than with the explosions and colors of a fireworks show. Local merchants have reported differing results of sales, so far.

Houston Roberson, owner of Boomtown Fireworks on U.S. Hwy. 84, said that his business has had the “best season ever” so far.

“It’s surprising,” he said. “In this economy, you might have thought it would be lower, but this has been the best season we’ve ever had. I think part of the reason is because we’ve marked down so much stuff in the store.”

Sandy McCranie, co-owner of Betty’s Fireworks in Florala, said that business has been slightly lower than average, but she expects a heavy rush of last-minute shoppers.

“I wouldn’t say our sales are high, and I wouldn’t say they’re really low either,” she said. “Right now, they’re just a little bit below average for the Christmas season. We’re going to be open New Year’s Eve until midnight or 1 a.m., so we know there’s still going to be a rush (today).”

At Boomtown Fireworks, the store uses technology to help sell its products. The store owns a personal computer, which has dozens of movie clips showing off various fireworks in action, complete with sound.

“We mostly make these movies ourselves,” Roberson said. “We’ve managed to sell several fireworks to customers after showing them the movie on the computer.”

Roberson added that some of the most popular items this year include the 500-gram cake fireworks and large artillery. The store also has custom packages priced anywhere from $150 to $300.

McCranie said that her store’s customers have not been purchasing as many large-scale fireworks as they had in the past.

“People are still buying fireworks here, they’re just not buying as much of the big stuff as they once did,” she said. “Now they’re buying more of the small things, maybe trying to get a bigger bang for the same buck.”

McCranie added that several customers have requested illegal fireworks such as M-80s, cherry bombs and “silver salutes.”

“These kinds of fireworks are illegal,” she said. “We don’t have them in stock and nobody else does, either. A new item that we do have in stock this year is the new three-inch canisters, the 500 grams. Those are popular and we have them.”