The economy is experiencing tough times, but fireworks sales are booming.
With several hundred customers visiting Wacky Wayne's Fireworks on West Martintown Road in North Augusta this week, manager Skip Playford said there's no indication that fireworks purchases are slowing.
"Based on what I've seen, everybody is excited. There's all kinds of fireworks shows going on for the Fourth, and I don't see the economy slowing it down," Mr. Playford said. "I think things are just as good in spite of the high gas prices."
Georgians are burning some gas to cross the river. More than a quarter of his customers are from Georgia, Mr. Playford said.
Edward Thurman, 24, an Augusta resident, was among the Georgians making the pilgrimage. His family has been buying fireworks since he was 5 years old. Even though times are tough, he said, he's not breaking the tradition.
"We're tight on money right now, but we always try to do this every year," Mr. Thurman said.
He plans to drive to Atlanta to deliver fireworks to family members. He said he buys fireworks in South Carolina because there's more variety in the merchandise.
At Fireworks Giant in North Augusta, the most popular items are firecrackers, artillery or mortar shells, and multi-shot aerials, said manager Matthew Augeri. Prices range from 25 cents to $600.
"People normally wait until after July 1 to get their fireworks. Things are definitely going to pick up," Mr. Augeri said.
Even nonprofit groups are cashing in on the fireworks industry. First Assembly of God, which holds services at The DoubleTree Hotel in Augusta, is selling fireworks to raise money for its children and youth ministries.
The church has sold fireworks on Deans Bridge Road for four years. This year, it has also set up a tent on Robert C. Daniel Parkway.
They'll be selling fireworks until Saturday, said church member Donna Johnson.
Based on past experiences, she also expects business to pick up today and Friday.
Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.