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How Xtreme Xplosives Fireworks shop survives seasonal business
Fireworks shop makes seasonal outfit work
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Jason Sillay, owner of Xtreme Xplosives Fireworks in Gainesville, prepares Thursday, June 21, 2018, to transport boxes of fireworks to one of the shop's temporary locations ahead of the Fourth of July holiday. - photo by David Barnes
Working in a seasonal industry is hard, but Jason Sillay has embraced it.
The owner of Xtreme Xplosives Fireworks in Gainesville also runs a Christmas tree farm in Johns Creek and jokes with his wife, Sara, about opening a business for a third season.
“He keeps threatening to do pumpkins, and I’m telling him, ‘If you do pumpkins, I’m out,’” Sara Sillay said laughing. “I can’t do pumpkins, too.”
Xtreme Xplosives at 984 Riverside Drive has kept the family busy. But when most of the store’s sales are made in just a few days, things can get tight, so Jason  has a few tricks to make the revenue last.
A lot of it is about being flexible. He makes sure that even though the shop closes during fall and most of winter, he’s available to help people in special situations.
“We do get phone calls in between requesting wedding sparklers, or if a birthday is coming up, or if it’s graduation,” Jason said. “So we’ll open up for runs of time during those periods.”
They’re open late every day during the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July and on the weekends throughout the rest of summer.
“That’s typically when people are on the lake, they’re having barbecues, they’re looking to blow stuff up,” Jason  said.
Once school starts back, they close the shop and open again for the month of December ahead of Christmas and New Year’s Eve festivities.
Another way Xtreme Xplosives is able to stay open is sticking to a budget. It seems obvious, but Jason has learned the money he makes on July 3 and 4 and Dec. 31 has to “carry you throughout the year,” so he creates a budget to make it do just that.
On top of budgeting, he said he works for a painting company while his wife has a couple of self-employed ventures of her own to keep money coming in all year.
“More than anything, we just try to keep our time busy because we’re active folks, and sitting around for those other eight months of the year isn’t very conducive to our lifestyle,” Sara said.
Another way the family stays busy is with five temporary Xtreme Xplosives locations, two in Gainesville and one each in Dahlonega, Cornelia and Cumming. Temporary leases are used for some locations and shipping-containers-turned-stores in parking lots are used for others. Those locations take a lot of work and preparation for the busy season, Jason said.
“It starts for us long before May,” he said. “It takes quite a while to get up and to the point where you pull the trigger for those two weeks of the holiday season. And then afterwards, it’s breaking down those locations and getting everything reconciled and moving container boxes.”
When it comes to renting locations during the busy season, Jason has to be selective. He said things get pretty “intense” for about 72 hours during the July Fourth holiday.
“You’re looking for high volume traffic areas, easy egress, so the people don’t have to struggle,” Jason  said. “It’s a huge impulse buy. People don’t say, ‘Oh, Fourth of July is next week, we need to get some fireworks.’ It’s always, ‘Fourth of July is tomorrow or today, we need to get some fireworks.’”
That was the major draw to Xtreme Xplosives’ current permanent location in Gainesville. The building that was once a Subway restaurant has quite a bit of daily traffic passing by.
The Sillay family doesn’t get to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday like most. They usually celebrate the following day. They don’t mind it, though. They’re the family that shoots fireworks off throughout the year.

“We’re extremely excited for the Fourth of July this year,” Jason said. “I think we’ve found ourselves with some of the best locations we’ve ever had now that the fervor of the first couple years of legalization has kind of settled. And we found our home here with Gainesville.”

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Jason Sillay, owner of Xtreme Xplosives Fireworks, and his wife Sara, chief financial officer of the company, check the expirations dates on fire extinguishers around their store in Gainesville Thursday, June 21, 2018, as they prepare for the Fourth of July. The Sillays operate a fireworks chain and a Christmas tree farm and have embraced the challenges that come with running seasonal businesses. - photo by David Barnes
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Xtreme Xplosives Fireworks in Gainesville sells a variety of things that go boom. - photo by David Barnes
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