Published Date Written by David CarkhuffPhantom Fireworks staff are seeing new faces in Scarborough since the opening of the company's store in late June — which a company official says is a sign of untapped interest in fireworks in Maine and not just a migration of customers from the company's Granite State stores.
"From New Hampshire, we thought, we were going to lose some business due to our Maine (store), but right now to tell you the truth, I think 90 percent of our sales here are new customers, which is amazing," said Ron Zoldan, vice president for product development and customer relations for Phantom.
Maine's legalization of consumer fireworks last year has ignited interest in home-based firework shows, according to the nationwide seller of consumer fireworks.
Scarborough and Westbrook are among the jurisdictions allowing sale and use of consumer fireworks under the state law. A host of other communities, including Portland, Falmouth, South Portland and numerous other jurisdictions in Cumberland County, have opted to ban fireworks sales and use. (For a list, see www.maine.gov/dps/fmo/fireworks/index.html.)
Phantom, based in Youngstown, Ohio, markets its brand in 46 states where the sale of consumer fireworks is permitted, and has facilities in 16 states and seasonal sales facilities and stands in 17 states, according to its literature. On Wednesday, June 27, Phantom, opened its new showroom at 2 Cabela's Blvd. in Scarborough, hosting a grand opening event to give customers a glimpse of what's available.
While Zoldan walked the floor, he used a Nook eReader to give customers an up-close look at what fireworks packages will look like when ignited.
"From what I've seen in Maine so far, people really don't know the variety of consumer fireworks that we're carrying now," Zoldan said. "Part of the benefit of these Nooks is I'm able to go around and show these customers exactly what these items do, and they can't believe these are backyard fireworks. People are revving up for the season."
Zoldan said, "It's hard to tell the difference these days between consumer fireworks and the Class B professional fireworks," the category of fireworks seen in professional shows in stadiums.
If you're going to invest in one of the larger packages, though, bring your wallet.
"We go from sparklers to mortar kits where it's single shot, and you drop it in, we have repeaters, we have assortments up to $1,400 where you can get your show in one big box," Zoldan said.
Zoldan said Phantom staff spend two months a year in China "going over product," and a media guide issued by the company cites statistical research on what Phantom says is declining rates of injury from fireworks, while those guides offer safety tips to customers.