FORT MILL — The doors to Fort Mills fireworks stores stay open all night.
You never have to be without a sparkler, said Kim Pyles, manager of Red Rocket Fireworks, which stays open 24/7 in the weeks leading up to the Fourth.
With Independence Day coming up Friday, store managers are expecting a busy year thanks to a three-day holiday weekend.
Were excited about it falling on a Friday this year, said Sharon Martin, manager of House of Fireworks.
Next door, Big Daddys Fireworks Castle manager Jeremy Jolly said hes hoping the Friday date will help with sales. Its been slightly down the last couple of years, Jolly said. The Fourth was falling in the middle of the week.
In an annual ritual, fireworks fans from North Carolina head down Interstate 77 before every Fourth of July. They cant buy or set off the festive explosives in North Carolina, which doesnt allow any fireworks that leave the ground.
Products with names such as Pyro Pandemonium and Quick & Dead line the shelves at the fireworks superstore right off the highway. Theres even a new Duck Dynasty firework modeled after the popular show on A&E.
Customer Mike Davis said hes spent four grand on fireworks before. This year, hes keeping it to $1,000. For Davis and his son, Brandon, 9, celebrating Independence Day with a bang is a father-son affair. Its a guy thing, Davis said.
And its not just any guy, Jolly said. Middle-aged males, he said. Thats your regulars that buy them just for the heck of it.
Mooresville neighbors Vinny Slavik and Bryan Bruce are two of those men. Were just big kids, Slavik said after finishing a sword fight with Bruces daughter, Saiuri, 7, in Red Rocket.
Slavik and Bruce are planning a neighborhood get-together and they say the festivities would not be complete without fireworks. Its an American thing, Bruce said.
This year, the American Pyrotechnics Association expects the consumer fireworks industry to rake in around $675 million. That would be up $13 million from last year and it doesnt even include money spent on fireworks for commercial displays, a figure that amounted to $328 million last year.
The Fort Mill shoppers said theyd like to see North Carolina relax its fireworks restrictions. Theyre missing out on taxes, said Davis, who lives in Greensboro but said he spends thousands on gas and fireworks in South Carolina.
Mike Wanner of Rowan County, who was buying $192 worth of fireworks, said enforcement of North Carolinas fireworks restrictions is nonexistent during holidays.
Customers arent the only ones having fun with the approaching holiday. During the school year, Pyles works as a high school teacher in Rock Hill. She said most summer employees at Red Rocket are teachers.
We really do have a good time, she said. We may not see each other all year, but then we come back and sell fireworks together.
It turns out most of these managers dont ever get around to shooting them off they have work to do.
On the Fourth, all four counters will be open, said Martin of House of Fireworks. Itll be a zoo.