Fireworks Sales Explode Across New Hampshire Borders

Originally published on July 2, 2011 1:41 pm
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Josh Rogers of New Hampshire Public Radio reports.

JOSH ROGERS: The scene at Champney's Fireworks was, as it tends to be in the run-up to July 4th, busy.


NANCY CHAMPNEY: Is this debit or credit?


CHAMPNEY: Need a bag.

MAN: Yeah, it might help.

ROGERS: The family-run store has been in business for 28 years. Owner Nancy Champney says about half her sales go to people who live outside New Hampshire. The fact that Maine will next year allow firework sales and that Massachusetts is debating following suit has her worried - very worried.

CHAMPNEY: You're wondering if it's going to really hit me hard if they go in on both sides. Yes, it is. It is. It's going to hit me hard. Mm-hmm.

ROGERS: Which would be fine with Richard Bastien. He's a member of the Massachusetts House leading the effort to bring legal fireworks to the Bay State.


ROGERS: Bastien dragged a bunting-draped podium to Massachusetts/New Hampshire state line and set it up 400 feet from a New Hampshire pyrotechnics chain-store. Bastien quoted John Adams, and likened his own cause to the nation's fight for independence.

RICHARD BASTIEN: I'm a firm believer in the same thing that the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence believed: It is time for us, in the cradle of liberty, to begin to trust our citizens once again.

ROGERS: Bastien then predicted that legal fireworks could mean millions to the Massachusetts economy and boost employment.

BASTIEN: Whether it would be a hundred jobs created, a thousand jobs created or 10,000 jobs created, the people that I spoke to yesterday down at the unemployment office, they're looking for anything that they can get right now.

ROGERS: The American Pyrotechnics Association keeps no state-specific numbers, but says the industry did almost a billion dollars of business last year; 75 percent of which was over the counter. But Nancy Champney, for one, remains skeptical that allowing fireworks in Maine and Massachusetts will bring any jobs beyond some seasonal temp work.

CHAMPNEY: Not unless he's going to open a Wal-Mart here. You know? People don't buy these every single day. The day after the 4th, it's done.

ROGERS: Brian Smith was headed in the other direction. He'd driven all the way from Albany, NY.

BRIAN SMITH: This is as close as I can find fireworks without going to Pennsylvania.

ROGERS: For NPR News, I'm Josh Rogers in Concord, New Hampshire.

SIMON: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.