Boom City USA prepared for influx as customers buy fireworks to celebrate Fourth of July

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, July 4, 2023

LANETT — Located at Exit 77 on I-85, Boom City USA is ready for one of its two busy periods of the year, July 4. The other big day is New Year’s Eve, and that’s a long way away.

Boom City USA is right now packed full of fireworks. Store Manager Marsha Pickens and assistants Ashley Atkins and Kimberly Price were ready for the influx of holiday revelers that would be flocking to the store in preparation for the holiday.

“We have a whole bunch of 500 grams, new mortar sets, all the favorite brands plus some new ones,” she told The Valley Times-News on Friday. “I have to tell you about the high school and college kids we have helping us in the store. They are great. We’d be in trouble without them. It would be hard to handle all the customers coming in.”

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Pickens said that Boom City is ready for a big surge of customers.

“We have a huge assortment of fireworks,” she said. “We are packed full right now.”

The five-inch, six-inch and seven-inch mortars are popular heading into Independence Day. These high-density polyethylene (HDP) tubes are sealed on one end to prevent hot gases from the lift charge to

escape underneath. When launched, the missile travels an estimated 200 feet per second or 135 miles an hour. They are harmless when launched overhead but do not need to be pointed at any ground-level object.

Depending on their size, quality, and atmospheric conditions, rockets can go from 50 to 300 feet in the air. At their apex, they explode with a loud bang or crackles, sending colorful streamers into the air.

“One good shot from a mortar will make you go ooh! and aah!” Pickens said. “We have some fireworks that will light up red, white and blue and some that send down parachutes. One of our items will fire 63 shots and will last up to two minutes. It lights up the whole sky and is absolutely beautiful.”

Boom City has a huge assortment of firecrackers, missiles, rockets. spinners, sparklers and many other items.

“We have plenty of best sellers like Growler, America’s Past Time and High Falutin’,” Pickens said.

Boom City usually follows a pattern. They will sell from wall to wall by midnight on July 4. It will take them several months to restock the big warehouse, and they will sell out again on New Year’s Eve.

In mid-to-late June into the first week in July, Boom City gets lots of business from Troup and Chambers counties.

“We also get lots of people from Opelika and Auburn and Phenix City on the Alabama side,” Pickens said. “People are coming here from LaGrange, Hogansville, Newnan and the Atlanta area on the Georgia side. Travelers going up and down the interstate often stop here to see what we have.”

Pickens is pleased with young people from the local area who work at the store this time of year.

“They are good kids, and we are glad to have them,” she said.

Some of them man the cash registers in the check-out line. Others escort customers out the side door once they have made their purchases. Some work the parking lot, helping people find a parking space and seeing they get out onto Phillips Road with no trouble when they are leaving.

One of the top sellers for the past 15 years has been a brand known as Loyal to None. As long as it’s popular, Boom City USA will be loyal to it and its snarling pirate logo. Other popular items include the Peacock, the Saturn Missile Battery, Country Boy, Distractions, Go Go Gorilla, One Bad Mother-in-Law, Evil Clown, Fighting Rooster, Tears for Fear, Migraine and Pain & Gain.

Gone but not forgotten is Boom City’s mascot, Wilton. A giant, blow-up gorilla that once sat on top of the building, Wilton has been retired. He’s more of an art object now. There are paintings of him both on the front and on the south side of the building. The same image graces t-shirts worn by the staff.

“It was an adventure having Wilton on top of the building,” Pickens said. “When a big gust of wind came by, he’d often get blown off the top and sometimes across the road.”

Several years back, Wilton once made it across Phillips Road and landed in a field near the Huguley family cemetery. Another time he was blown a good distance from the store and landed on a cell tower.

“We got him down, sewed him up and put him back on top of the building,” Pickens said.

Boom City USA is big in promoting safety. They encourage everyone using fireworks to always follow safety guidelines.

Firefighter Mike is their spokesman and has a long list of safety rules he wants everyone to follow.

They are listed at