Tim Bolduc cashed out customers almost as fast as they could come. Some came looking for little shots; others preferred something with a little more kick. They all had one thing in common: For the first time in decades, they all could legally celebrate the Fourth of July by firing off their own fireworks.

“It just makes you part of the Fourth of July,” said Mike Perron, of Lewiston, as he collected a small basket of firecrackers and other pyrotechnics at Patriot Fireworks in Monmouth. “If you don’t have anything, the wife’s going to be disappointed.”

Lawmakers in January lifted a decades-old ban on selling, possessing and using fireworks in Maine. Since then, fireworks stores have cropped up around the state. Patriot Fireworks, which opened in May, was the second store to open in Kennebec County, behind Pyro City in Manchester. If business at those two stores is any indication, Mainers are enthusiastic about their newfound freedom to light up a firecracker or two.

“We’re pretty steady for sure,” Bolduc, co-owner of Patriot Fireworks, said Wednesday morning. “It really picked up about seven days ago.”

Steve Boucher, retail manager of Pyro City’s Manchester store, said business has been steady since the store opened in February, but the deluge began about a week ago. The store was supposed to open at 9 a.m. Wednesday, but Boucher unlocked the doors at 8 because customers already had been waiting an hour. By 10 a.m., customers were lined up across the store.

“The lines have been backing up,” Boucher said. “People are happy.”

Bolduc said his wholesaler, who has been selling fireworks to stores for decades, gave the store owners an idea of what to expect from Fourth of July sales.

“He’s been pretty much right about everything,” Bolduc said. “It started off slower than anticipated, but it’s gained speed. It gained enough where we’re pretty happy.”

Bolduc and Boucher both say they spend considerable time explaining the state’s fireworks laws and how to use the different explosives. At Patriot Fireworks, that campaign includes pamphlets detailing the state law and signs explaining local ordinances adopted by area communities. Customers at Pyro City can watch a video showing how various fireworks behave and how to use them responsibly.

“Our big thing is to stress safety,” Boucher said.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

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