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Rachel Bailey, right, shows fireworks to Delance Styles at the TNT fireworks tent near Bluefield City Park recently. 

PRINCETON -— A desire to celebrate America’s independence and let off steam after months of staying home are helping fuel sales of bigger fireworks with lots of color and lots of noise this year.

Fireworks vendors across Mercer County are seeing plenty of local people looking for fireworks such as the bigger shells and rockets. Jessica Basham, a clerk at the locally-owned Honest Abe Fireworks off Stafford Drive, said sales have been strong.

“They’re going good, and it’s picked up a lot today, and I think from now to the Fourth, it’s going to be busy,” she said Wednesday afternoon. “The artillery shells and the cakes are probably the most popular bestsellers. We’ve got a lot for younger kids.”

Down the road, local people at TNT Fireworks were selling merchandise as a fundraiser for New Covenant Church in Princeton. 

“We’ve seen a really good change this year,”  Sherry Phillips of Princeton said. “The sales have really been up this year. I think people are looking for something to do because they’ve been staying home. Some of them are not waiting for the Fourth. They just want something to do because of the boredom.”

Consumers are wanting bigger fireworks this year.

“People are looking for the big booms and they’re looking for pretty colors,” she added.

In Bluefield near the former Kmart off Cumberland Road, Big Poggy Fireworks of Arkansas was seeing brisk business, sales clerk Shawna Kuhn of Welch said.

“They’re going good,” she said of the sales. “The tent’s doubling what it made last year so far.”

Except for shows in starting 9 p.m. today in Bluefield and in Princeton Saturday starting at 10 p.m., a lot of the professional fireworks have been canceled, so local fireworks enthusiasts want to put on their own displays. Kuhn said larger fireworks such as mortars have been popular.

“I’ve had to order those twice,” she recalled.

Kuhn pointed out large boxes of fireworks with labels such as “This is America” and “Barely Legal” on a nearby table. The biggest box, “ This is America,”  contained 60 shells. Smaller packs with fewer shells were available, too. She started out last week with 96 of the larger fireworks packages.

“In six days I had five boxes left and I had to order more,” she said.

Over on Stadium Drive, a TNT Fireworks tent staffed by an independent contractor, Rachel Bailey of Wyoming County, was serving a customer. She said it was her first year selling fireworks.

“I’ve not really had a slow day,” Bailey said. “This is my sixth day, and it’s been pretty constant.”

Like other vendors, Bailey’s has served customers looking for bigger and higher-flying fireworks this year.

“The huge stuff has been popular,” she stated. “But the mid-sized stuff has been the most popular.”

Bailey was helping Heather Estep, who had recently moved to the region with her family, find the best buy for private fireworks display.

“Yes, we do it every year,” Estep said after she paid. “We have three babies, and we let them have their friends over and I invite my family. We’re going to be cautious.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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