Massachusetts Residents Giving Business To Fireworks Dealers In Nearby States

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What makes Massachusetts different from the other 49 states?

A lot of things, including its fireworks laws.

Massachusetts is the only state in the country where no consumer fireworks are legal.

For neighboring states — including New Hampshire — that means an increase in business this time of year. That increase includes out-of-state purchasers from Massachusetts.

And to legally buy these fireworks, Bay Staters often don’t have to travel far at all.

That patronage has been beneficial, out-of-state fireworks dealers tell NewBostonPost.

Beneficiaries include Fireworks Connection in Tiverton, Rhode Island. The store is less than 1,000 feet from the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border. Fall River, Massachusetts is on the other side of the border.

“The majority of our customers come from Massachusetts,” Walter Mandeville, owner of Fireworks Connection, told NewBostonPost in an email message. “We see a large amount of people from the greater New Bedford and Fall River area as well as Cape Cod.”

Mandeville also encouraged people to shop early for fireworks and said there is a shortage this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Up north, another business that operates right near Massachusetts is Fireworks Over The Border in Seabrook, New Hampshire. It’s just a few hundred feet from Salisbury, Massachusetts, and provides many Bay Staters with plenty of material for Independence Day celebrations.

“A good portion of them come from Massachusetts because I’m on the line,” director and president Tony Rizzo told NewBostonPost in a telephone interview. “I wouldn’t say 80 percent, 60 percent, or even 50 percent come from Massachusetts. It might be more like 20 to 40 percent. They come in and they’re usually a family who wants to light some stuff in their backyard and all that.”

Rizzo also told NewBostonPost that 85 percent of fireworks safety is using common sense, and the other 15 percent is knowing where and how to light them. He urged people to not use fireworks under the influence of alcohol and said his store tells all of its customers to be sober when using them.

Rizzo also told NewBostonPost that consumers should shop early — and that he planned ahead for a potential shortage.

“My store anticipated the problem, so I have a store full of them and a warehouse full of them,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll have a shortage.”

And while many might think of New Hampshire as the Bay Staters’ premier destination for fireworks, people from Massachusetts do buy fireworks in the state to New Hampshire’s north — to a lesser extent.

Sean MacMillan, who owns Big Bang Boom Fireworks in a small town that borders Bangor, Maine told NewBostonPost that he does get business from Bay Staters vacationing up in Penobscot County.

“The store is in Holden Maine which is a long way from the Mass border,” he wrote. “However, we do have a fair amount of people from Massachusetts stopping to buy fireworks on their way back from Acadia National park.”

And even one business right by the Canadian border, Green Mountain Fireworks, has sold a few fireworks to Bay State consumers. However, owner Matthew Lavigne said that’s typically people on vacation using them in-state. The store is in Alburg, Vermont, about two miles from the U.S. Canadian border by car.

“People aren’t hopping the border to come here to purchase fireworks,” he told NewBostonPost in a telephone interview. “I don’t think they bring them back. We have good records tracking sales and I think we’ve had five sales to people from Massachusetts so far this year. It’s just not a lot.”

Lavigne also acknowledged the fireworks shortage as well, and urged people to buy sooner rather than later.

“People who wait until the Fourth of July weekend are going to be lucky to get sparklers, honestly,” he said.

He noted that coronavirus-induced supply chain delays, factories in China shutting down for a few months last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, high demand last year, and an accident in a major Chinese factory last year that forced another shutdown are among the reasons why there isn’t as much product available to the public. 

Fireworks have been illegal in Massachusetts since 1943. Fireworks and bonfires were outlawed during World War II to keep the night sky dark, making the prospect of Germans bombing American cities during the war more difficult. It never happened, but the ban on fireworks has stayed in place ever since.

Independence Day is this upcoming Sunday.


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