MANCHESTER — Demand pent up by a decades-long ban on consumer fireworks in Maine was unleashed Thursday when hundreds of customers braved a snowstorm to be at the opening day of the state’s first retail fireworks store.

Steve Marson, who owns Pyro City off U.S. Route 202, said he thought the storm would dissuade customers, even on the opening day.

Instead, he found anxious customers already in the parking lot before the store opened Thursday morning, as schools and many businesses shut down for the day.

By mid-afternoon, and with a couple more hours to go before closing time, Marson estimated about 250 people came through the store doors, located in a former used car dealership.

Marson said sales were brisk and steady, and at least one trip to the firm’s warehouse, in Farmingdale, was necessary when the store ran out of some items.

“People are coming from pretty far away, because we’re the first to open,” Marson said. “I just had a gentleman from Bangor come in. He said not to have to go to New Hampshire is such a relief.”

New state law that took effect this year lifts the ban on selling and using consumer fireworks.

Six licensed pyrotechnic technicians from Marson’s other business, Central Maine Pyrotechnics, which has put on major fireworks shows for municipalities and other groups for some 26 years, joined store staff Thursday to explain the different fireworks available, what they do, and how to use them safely.

Marson said some customers said they’ve never fired off fireworks before, so they talked with technicians about how to do it.

Richard Taylor, senior research and planning analyst with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, who will have oversight responsibilities for licensing retail fireworks stores, said Marson’s store was the first to open and no other proposed businesses appear close to opening yet.

Marson also plans to open three other retail fireworks stores in Maine before July: in Edgecomb in March, Winslow in April and Presque Isle in May.

Five employees will work in the store regularly.

“I’m ecstatic,” Marson said of opening day. “If this is any indication of how things are going to go, we’re pretty happy.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]almaine.com

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