SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Dry conditions and the recent wildfires in parts of North Georgia nearly threatened firework sales across the entire state.
New Year's Eve is the second major holiday in terms of sales next to the 4th of July. Up until last week, parts of Georgia were banned from using fireworks. The timing couldn't have been worse because 2016 was the first full year for firework sales in Georgia since it was legalized.
Even though the Coastal Empire was not included in that ban, TNT officials were really worried about setting up anywhere in the state.
"It was looking kind of scary there for a minute in relation to business, about whether we felt comfortable about putting fireworks in the cities," said TNT South GA manager David Midgorden.
Midgorden says many months of planning and coordinating go into these pop-up firework stands that open up for New Year's and for the 4th of July. But since their last major sales event this summer, sales for New Year's remained questionable.
"We put a pause on as much as we could until the very end," said Midgorden.
Things were still up in the air as late as last week when the governor finally lifted the firework ban that had impacted most of middle and north Georgia. Midgorden says they did what they could at the last minute to open up as many stands as possible around the state.
He says this was the not the year they were expecting in Georgia. It was the first full year of sales since it was legalized, which has come with its own challenge of getting the word out.
"People still don't know the law that you can buy them here instead of South Carolina," said VFW 660 Commander Andy Burney.
But those that do know are also helping local non-profits that run these pop-up stands. Organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars receive 20 percent of everything they sell. And don't forget about the 5 percent excise tax that goes back to the state to support trauma care, firefighter training and public safety purposes. So these sales are not only vital at the state level but also the local level.
While a drought may have put a damper on some sales throughout the state, any profit is better than the profit Georgia was giving away in years past.
"People are getting the fireworks anyway. They are going across the border. They are coming back into the state and they are hurting themselves."
He says that has impacted sales on the boarder of South Carolina, but he says some of those stores are owned by TNT and so for them, that means business is just shifting around.