Archive for Saturday, July 3, 2004

Weather dampens first-day fireworks sales

Rain a boon to other businesses

July 3, 2004


Flash flooding Friday meant a bad start to business for several fireworks stands around Lawrence, but plumbers and hardware stores got a business boost from homeowners with flooded basements and broken sump pumps.

Traffic at Pine's Fireworks in North Lawrence fizzled during the storm, but co-owner Jim Pine said he was expecting more fireworks buyers to come in during the weekend.

"Friday is a work day, so we weren't expecting a lot of people anyway," he said. "But as soon as there is any kind of break in the weather, people will come in droves."

Pine has been selling fireworks at the same spot for nearly 30 years.

"This is the longest day of continual rain I think we've had in recent years," he said. "It always seems to rain one of the three days (fireworks can be sold in Douglas County). It's just part of the game."

Brian Kelly of Wholesale Fireworks said business had been slow at his tent south of Lawrence, too.

"This is as much rain as I've ever seen, and I've been doing this since I was 14 years old," Kelly said. "I've been in a tent that has blown over, but I've never seen it rain this hard for this long."

There was some standing water in the tent, he said, but none of the merchandise had gotten wet.

Other area businesses benefited from the torrent.

Dina Bahnmaier of Action Plumbing in Lawrence said several people had called about flooded basements and broken sump pumps.

"We're pretty frazzled today," Bahnmaier said.

She expected more calls as people got home from work to find flooded basements.

"People should check their sump pumps and make sure they're working before weather like this hits," Bahnmaier said.

Nathan Hawke, floor supervisor at Westlake Ace Hardware, 601 Kasold Drive, said customers were coming in wanting Wet Vacs and sump-pumps.

"We're swamped right now," Hawke said.

At Lawrence KOA Campgrounds, 1473 Highway 40, president Ralph Newell said the rain caused some concern for campers but no damage or high water on the property had been reported. The campgrounds are full.

Many of the KOA campers are planning to celebrate Independence Day by going to NASCAR Truck Series and IndyCar Series races this weekend at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.

"The rain has dampened some spirits," Newell said. "But this is a pretty special weekend. There was a lot of concern at first, but most people are moving on and having fun."

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