Despite regulations, firework sellers have no qualms

Jonathan Roberts • Jul 2, 2019 at 8:00 PM

While fireworks are illegal to possess or shoot within the city limits of Johnson City, Bristol and Kingsport, that’s not the case outside those limits. But depending on what type of stand you operate, regulations for selling fireworks can vary widely.

On South Roan Street just outside of Johnson City’s limits, for example, you’ll find one of — if not the — largest fireworks tents in Northeast Tennessee, Super Sam’s, owned by Jimmy and Alysia Campbell, who run 30 stands in five states. And over their two decades in business they’ve had no complaints about city regulations, calling them “fair” and saying “if you follow the rules, you don’t have anything to worry about.”

“The rules are fair, we try to teach every customer about safety when they come through, and the Forestry Department brings us a list of rules on how to be safe with fireworks,” Alysia Campbell said.

“We’re happy to follow all the rules,” she continued.

The rules, however, aren’t the same for brick and mortar stores, even if they’re in the same location.

For Nancy Daughtery and Tammy Grindstaff, who operate Shoot Um Up Fireworks less than a mile from Super Sam’s with their other sister Loretta Greene, that can present a bit of a challenge, especially for smaller stores that can’t compete with some of the bigger regional tents.

“We have to have three emergency exits, we had to put in lighted signs, we have outside lights now, and we have doors that open from the inside and if you have a building that’s a certain square footage you need a sprinkler system, but we didn’t have to do that,” said Daughtery.

While adding those safety features aren’t cheap, both Daughtery and Grindstaff felt the regulations were a “good thing,” but with one caveat.

“The only thing that bothers me, is that it cut out some people who couldn’t afford to do it, and I feel bad about that,” Daughtery said.

Still, the owners of Super Sam’s and Shoot Um Up fireworks had little to complain about in terms of regulation, with both saying the rules were both good and necessary to keep people safe.

“If you have any questions at all, it’s always good to ask — don’t walk away without knowing what you’re buying or how to use it,” Campbell said.

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