The Big Bang Theory
I took a mini vacation to Pennsylvania the last week of June, and before leaving I received a request from one of my relatives: Bring home some fountain fireworks for the 4th of July.
I live in New Jersey, one of a handful of states that outlawed the sale of fireworks. However, across the border in Pennsylvania they are legal for out-of-state residents to buy. As soon as I crossed the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, I was greeted with massive billboards announcing Phantom Fireworks and other stores. However, I decided to wait until I reached my destination to do my fireworks shopping.
Not too far from my hotel, I passed a Royal Farms convenience store that had a large tent set up in the parking lot, having a buy-one-get-one-free sale. I stopped by and bought a couple of “fountain” type fireworks. These are canisters around the size of a mayonnaise jar that you place on the ground, light the fuse, and they emit showers of multi-colored sparks that look like they are erupting from a volcano.
The next day I stopped by a Weis Markets near my hotel. The front-end was all decked out in red, white and blue for the holiday, but I did not see any fireworks. I stopped and asked an associate if they sold fireworks and she pointed to a display by one of the registers. It was hard to find and I had actually walked passed it twice while looking for my pyrotechnics. I ended up purchasing a couple more fountain displays. Although Weis did not have a BOGO sale, their prices were substantially lower than Royal Farms’, so it just about evened out.
I went back to my hotel and called my relatives to inform them that I had purchased the fireworks they requested. It was then that I was informed of the breaking news – just in time for the 4th of July, New Jersey had passed a law allowing the sale of sparklers and non-explosive fireworks, such as party poppers and snappers. Roman candles and other shooting fireworks, M-80s and firecrackers are still illegal, however.
This legislation was signed into law on June 28, but apparently that was more than enough time for Garden State stores to stock up on supply. When I came home and turned on News 12 New Jersey, our local cable news channel, they were reporting that fireworks sales had been brisk for the holiday. The report stated that after conducting several area store checks, both Walmart and Target were sold out of fireworks, although Stop & Shop still had some left.
New Jersey supermarkets would be wise to stock up on plenty of fireworks for next July 4th, and maybe Labor Day, New Year’s Eve and some other holidays too. I suggest they merchandise them in clearly marked displays near the checkouts, maybe adjacent to a display of paper plates, hot dog buns, ketchup, mustard and relish, if possible. I am not sure of exact wording of the legislation, but if allowed I would definitely tout it in the weekly circular, or from a banner suspended outside the store, if possible.
After years of wait and sneaking across the border under the cloak of darkness to purchase them, legal fireworks in New Jersey can certainly give a much needed bang to impulse general merchandise sales.