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Business is booming
July Fourth is 'big hoorah' for summer
Fireworks Stand 1 es
Daniel Cantrell and Jeff Bratsch get advice from Pamela Marchand on appropriate fireworks for different age groups. Marchand has run a TNT Fireworks tent at the Ingles on Bethelview with her sister, Rachel Giso, for four years. - photo by Emily Saunders
Fireworks have long been a symbol of Independence Day and for many area businesses, the holiday itself has become a symbol of sales.

From barbecue to boating, business is booming at local marinas and grocery and package stores.

Brent Danneman knew sales would be better than the past few July Fourths, when drought was a factor. But the general manager of Port Royale marina wasn’t expecting what he’s seen in the weeks leading up to this weekend.

“It’s probably one of the better Fourth of July holiday seasons I’ve seen in 25 years,” he said. “Our sales are phenomenal. They’re through the roof.”

With the level of Lake Lanier up — it’s less than 5 feet below full pool — and fuel prices down, Danneman said boat sales are high and all 75 of the marina’s rental boats have been claimed for the weekend.

“I’d like to put additional boats in for rentals,” he said. “We’ve put our entire fleet up. But because our retail sales have been so good, our retail store inventory is low ... I don’t have the inventory to pull away from retail stores.”

Danneman said the holiday weekend likely will be the busiest of the year for the marina in northeastern Forsyth County, surpassing Memorial Day.

Like Port Royale, Bald Ridge marina near Cumming has seen a substantial uptick from recent years. General manager Jon Stovall said it’s a “welcome break from what we’ve been experiencing the last two to three years.”

“A lot of people are coming in leasing docks that I haven’t seen ever,” he said. “There’s also some old timers that have shown back up. Business is really, really steady on the Fourth of July weekend.”

The weather forecast shows a possibility of scattered showers through Sunday, but Stovall said he’s not worried.

“I’ve prayed for rain for so long, I can’t complain when it comes,” he said. “Scattered showers is not that big a deal.”

The resurgence of Lanier has also fueled demand for bathing suits and other summer gear at the Wal-Mart on Market Place Boulevard in Cumming.

Russ Hilsher, store manager, said the toy department is well stocked with “water guns, fun noodles and all that good stuff.”

“July Fourth is definitely one of the busiest holidays for outdoors,” he said. “It’s one of the vacation weeks that a lot of people come out and take advantage of the outdoors. We’re stocked up and ready for business.”

Whether it’s a picnic on a boat or a backyard barbecue, food plays an integral role in celebrating the nation’s birthday.

“It’s just an American tradition,” said Brenda Reid, Publix supermarkets spokeswoman. “It goes with the holiday. It’s all about being outdoors, celebrating the freedoms that we have, and it’s a great opportunity for families to get together and enjoy a meal.”

Barbecue meats are among the most popular items during the holiday, Reid said. Publix is offering deals on everything from spare and baby back ribs to porterhouse T-bone steaks and chicken.

Cakes decorated to look like hamburgers and watermelons are expected to be top bakery sellers, she said.

Jonathan Pickelsimer, manager of the Ingles on Canton Road, said cupcakes and cookies with patriotic messages will be the bakery’s top sellers, though that department won’t be getting as much attention as others.

“It’s just the best time to cook out,” Pickelsimer said.

In addition to meat, other popular items include side dishes, condiments and paper products. Barbecue is probably the most popular type of potato chip, he said, and 12-packs of Coke products are the most popular non-alcoholic beverages.

For alcoholic beverages, World Beverage manager Karl Furem is stocking up on margarita, mojito and daquiri mixes and the accompanying rum, tequila and vodka.

Mixed drinks and wine remain favorites, but according to Furem, beer is king for July Fourth. Budweiser and Corona are among the top selling brands, he said, noting their light versions have become more popular.

Furem expects to see many new faces between today and Saturday, along with a 30 percent spike in sales.

“This is definitely the busiest weekend of the summer for a liquor store,” he said. “Labor Day is so-so and Memorial Day is pretty good, but this is the big hoorah for the summer.”

That “hoorah” often includes fireworks.

This is the fourth year Barney and Pamela Marchand have sold fireworks from a tent in the parking lot of the Ingles on Bethelview Road.

The couple, who live near the supermarket, set up their TNT Fireworks shop for a few days prior to July Fourth and New Year’s.

Sparklers and fountains are among their top-selling items. Barney Marchand said the money they make goes to youth lacrosse teams.

“I’m an elementary P.E. teacher, so I like kids and I like family activities,” he said. “... Plus fireworks are a lot of fun. It’s just good family fun.”

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