Fireworks: Hobby turned booming business
Franklin County Times
The fireworks business has three speeds: Slow, dead and booming.
The boom comes in the days leading up to New Years Eve and July 4. The other two speeds come in the 40-some-odd weeks before, between and after.
During the bust times, it's commonplace to see firework stands pop up along the roadside and in shopping centers. They're only open two or three weeks of the 52 week year, which means most employees don't get to know their customers too well before closing shop.
Carolyn McClellan has been selling fireworks for 25 years, and still enjoys selling the things that go pop in the night. She started working in the fireworks industry as a way to make a little money while she was pregnant.
Now, 25 years later, she takes her vacation time off from Pilgrim's Pride to work at the stand in front of Foodland in Russellville.
"I always just say that the gunpowder went to my brain," McClellan joked.
Across town, Gary Holley said he decided to go in with a friend to open a fireworks stand. The rest is history.
Holley owns the firework stand across from Big Star and said he has always loved fireworks, and converted his love for the flares into a profitable hobby.
"This is really just my hobby," Holley said. "I started it for some extra cash one year. Six years later, I am still here."
In a twist of poetic irony, when Holly's not selling things that ignite and explode, he's trying to prevent them.
Holley works for Fire Extinguishers Services in Russellville where he sells and services fire Extinguisher and smoke detectors.
Holley said that he enjoys seeing the kids come into the shop excited about buying fireworks.
"The kids are what makes this worthwhile," Holley said. " They walk in here to get their fireworks and they look so excited. Like they had just opened up their Christmas present."