Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Two fireworks stores will open in Scarborough within the next week, in time for the Fourth of July.
Atlas Fireworks will open this weekend at 374 Route 1, and Phantom Fireworks is due to open Wednesday in The Gateway Shoppes plaza. They will be the first fireworks stores in southern Maine. Sales and use of fireworks were legalized in Maine last year.
Fireworks stores have opened in Manchester, Edgecomb, Winslow, Monmouth and South Paris within the past two months.
Maine's law allows towns and cities to impose their own regulations on fireworks. Scarborough decided to allow sales of fireworks, but limited their use to five days each year around the Fourth of July and New Year's.
Portland, South Portland and Biddeford are among the communities in southern Maine that banned sales and use of fireworks. Saco, Westbrook and Windham decided to allow them.
By Maine law, customers must be at least 21 years old to buy consumer fireworks, a classification of smaller explosives 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 types of fireworks that are still illegal to sell in Maine.
Matt Shea, vice president of Jaffrey, N.H.-based Atlas Fireworks, said the company wanted to open its first Maine location in a high-traffic area near Route 1 and interstates 95 and 295. The company is leasing a 3,200-square-foot building on Route 1, near the Haigis Parkway.
Atlas Fireworks operates six stores in New Hampshire and puts on commercial fireworks displays, including in Portland. The company considered opening a store in Topsham, but with uncertainty about local regulations, company officials decided to go to a community with clear rules.
"It's a nice first step into Maine," Shea said.
Phantom Fireworks, based in Youngstown, Ohio, will open its first Maine store in the plaza anchored by Cabela's. Haven's Candies and the Thai 9 restaurant moved within the plaza to make way for the fireworks store, which by law must be in a stand-alone building. Haven's Candies reopened June 1 and Thai 9 reopened Thursday.
"We believe that the customer demographics for Cabela's and Phantom Fireworks are similar, so we believe there will be great synergy between the two retailers," said William Weimer, vice president of Phantom Fireworks.
Andy Charles, owner of Haven's Candies, said he thinks the fireworks stores will bring more shoppers to the area.
"I'm hopeful that anything that brings more traffic to the plaza will lead to more visits to my store," he said.
Phantom Fireworks, which operates 59 stores in 14 states, is considering opening more stores in Maine communities that permit sales of fireworks.
As Mainers get more familiar with consumer fireworks, some communities may relax their regulations, Weimer said.
Phantom Fireworks employees distribute safety instructions on flyers and shopping bags to customers who may be unfamiliar with how to use fireworks. There were three fireworks-related deaths and 8,600 injuries nationwide in 2010, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Staff Writer Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at: