Fireworks

At Poor Boys Fireworks in Saks on Saturday, customer Harold Payne, 75, looks over some merchandise.

Looking for a “grand finale” for a New Year’s Eve fireworks display, Harold Payne, pastor of a Church of God in Weaver, inspected the shelves Saturday at Poor Boys Fireworks Superstore in Saks.

Payne’s church holds an annual new year’s lock-in for its youth membership and fireworks are part of the fun.

“We’re going to light up Weaver,” Payne, 75, said as he entered the yellow metal building.

Payne is part of the secondary market that helps store owner Tony Carroll, 44, make some money in lean winter months. Carroll, who owns two fireworks stores, says New Year’s Eve is the second-biggest fireworks selling season of the year, the most important one being the Fourth of July.

“It’s probably one-fourth or one-third of what they normally are in the summertime. Not as many people shoot fireworks in the winter just due to Christmastime,” Carroll said.

“Where the Fourth of July seems to be maybe a two- to three-day sale event — a lot of people buy them on the third, a lot on the fourth — New Year’s Eve is mostly a one- to two-day event. People normally come in and buy them right on New Year’s Eve,” Carroll said, adding that 90 percent of his sales are on New Year’s Eve.

A marquee outside of Poor Boys on Saturday flashed “Happy New Year 2019” and “Bring Home The Boom” to passing motorists on U.S. 431. Anyone who stopped would have seen a dazzling array of merchandise; shelves were stocked with Big Panda and other brands of artillery shells like Ghost Rider, Fat Cat and Sweet Home Alabama as well as the traditional fireworks like smoke bombs, firecrackers and Roman candles.

Carroll said sales are going pretty well this year compared to previous years but he’s worried that the forecast, which calls for rain on Monday, might dampen sales.

Carroll’s business has been in Saks for 22 years and during that time he’s seen some big changes in the fireworks trade.

“One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is the changes in artillery shells, used to be all of the artillery shells were pretty much the same,” Carroll said.

He said that artillery shells are now larger, up to six inches long, and they go up 450-500 feet compared to the old ones which only went up 150-200 feet before exploding.

“They’ve really evolved into making larger and bigger displays, closer to what you would see at Oxford Lake and things like that,” said Carroll.

Carroll said the cost of imported fireworks has increased over the years but he keeps his prices as low as possible for his customers, noting he buys from six or seven different wholesalers in the Southeast to stock his shelves.

One of those wholesalers offers a brand of fireworks called Red Apple.

“These products are insane. I mean the artillery shells we’ve got, five-inch artillery shells, the Giant Panda, they’re six inches long and they go close to 500 feet up with big huge bursts,” Carroll said.

Carroll said the company pushes it “to the max” as far as how much explosive powder they can get into them legally.

Carroll said that he has a limited amount of the high-powered artillery shells but next summer he hopes to have a big inventory for the Fourth of July.

​Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.

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