Over the border from Jason Sillay’s lakehouse on Lake Hartwell was the free sale of bigger and better fireworks in South Carolina.
“We would put on a big fireworks show for everybody in the cove, and we thought it would be a great way to start making some extra money,” Sillay said.
Sillay and his family opened Xtreme Xplosives on Riverside Drive across from City Park in Gainesville, stocking the shelves ahead of the law change Wednesday on fireworks.
“You’ve got an opportunity to support local business right here at home,” Sillay said. “You don’t have to put up with the four-hour round-trip drive.”
Beginning Wednesday, fireworks may be sold from brick-and-mortar stores and some temporary locations in Georgia if they comply with code requirements and have a permit from the Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner.
Bigger brands such as Jake’s Fireworks opened five stores in Georgia — including one in Buford on Gainesville Highway — following the implementation of House Bill 110.
“Before you had just your sparklers and your little smoke bombs,” said Jake’s Fireworks marketing director D’Andra Price. “Now you have lights, sound — you have a show that you can put on.”
Sparklers and other small devices that did not fly high into the air were allowed before the new law.
Sillay operated four tents last year while keeping an eye toward the Atlanta statehouse about new regulations.
“We followed it pretty closely for the past three years all along the way,” he said.
Gainesville Fire Department spokesman Keith Smith said in a news release that fireworks cannot be lit within 100 yards of a gas station or “a facility that refines, processes or blends gasoline.” Fireworks can be used between 10 a.m. and midnight; on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, July 3 and July 4, fireworks can be used from 10 a.m. through 2 a.m.
In addition to specialty stores, suppliers like TNT Fireworks sell products to big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Kroger. Three TNT stores are open in Flowery Branch.
Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle issued a warning to citizens excited about the new law to use common sense and wear safety glasses. Cagle added that users should keep water or a fire extinguisher on hand and keep spectators at a safe distance.
Sillay said he hopes to expand in the coming years and represent a year-round option for firework enthusiasts.
“We’re in it for the long haul as opposed to some of the fly-by-night organizations that are going to come in and just set up (July) 1-5 and be out the door,” he said.