Two retailers are moving out of the way to make room for southern Maine’s first fireworks store at Scarborough’s Gateway Shoppes, home to Cabela’s.

Phantom Fireworks, a national chain, plans to open its first Maine store in June in a building that had been home to a Haven’s Candies and the Thai 9 restaurant. Those shops have closed and are moving to other space in the plaza so the fireworks store can move in.

Owners of those two businesses and other shops at the plaza believe the fireworks store will draw more traffic to the Payne Road plaza.

Phantom Fireworks looks forward to sharing a shopping center with Cabela’s, which attracts many of the same customers.

“This whole thing will be a plus for everyone,” said Harvey Rosenfeld, president of Scarborough Economic Development Corp.

Since the state law legalizing the sale and use of consumer fireworks took effect in January, two stores have opened in Maine — one in Manchester and one in Edgecomb.

Steve Marson, who owns the stores, both called Pyro City, said he plans to open another one in Winslow in May and two more, in Presque Isle and Ellsworth, within a couple of months.

Marson said he hasn’t been interested in opening in southern Maine, because it’s too close to existing stores in New Hampshire and because many towns in the region have enacted ordinances banning the sale and/or use of fireworks.

Jack Abell, director of development for Phantom Fireworks, said the company is well-positioned to do business in the area because it is “familiar with the customers” who already shop at its New Hampshire stores. Phantom, which is based in Ohio, has about 60 stores in 14 states.

Maine law says customers must be at least 21 years old to buy consumer fireworks, a classification that includes Roman candles and sparklers, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office lists missile-type rockets, sky rockets, bottle rockets and helicopters among the fireworks that are still illegal in Maine.

Maine’s law also allows towns and cities to enact their own fireworks regulations.

Although the Scarborough Town Council, after much debate, decided to allow the sale of fireworks, it banned their use on all but five days of the year — around New Year’s and the Fourth of July.

Portland, South Portland and Biddeford are three cities that have banned the sale and use of fireworks. Westbrook, Windham and Saco have decided to allow them.

Fireworks companies paid close attention to the debate, Rosenfeld said.

“Once the state law went into effect, there was a big interest in Maine. People were watching,” he said.

Rosenfeld said the companies looked at several sites in Scarborough. The proximity of the Gateway Shoppes plaza to Interstate 95 made it “a really good spot,” he said.

Soon after Cabela’s and a handful of retail stores opened there in 2008, the recession hit and “kind of stopped our renting program in its tracks,” said developer Barry Feldman.

Gateway Shoppes has capacity for 220,000 square feet of store space. So far, about 185,000 square feet, most of it housing Cabela’s, have been built, Feldman said.

With the fireworks store, 85 percent of the existing space will be occupied.

Feldman, owner of Feldco Development Corp., hopes other new businesses move into the plaza so the build-out continues.

“We think the future is very bright,” he said.

Haven’s Candies owner Andy Charles said relocating the store is “a huge undertaking.”

But he believes adding the fireworks business to the plaza and moving the candy store closer to other retailers, including Portland Pie Co. and Cabela’s, will be worth it.

An arrangement with Feldco made the move “favorable” for both parties, Charles said, though neither he nor Feldman would divulge details.

By state law, fireworks stores must be housed in stand-alone buildings.

Thai 9 and Haven’s will both be closed for about a month and will reopen by the end of May.

“I’m excited,” Charles said. “Whether you agree or disagree with fireworks … it brings traffic to the plaza.”

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at

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