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Retailers ready for holiday rush
Stocking up on flags, fireworks, food
Fourth WEB 1
Maggie Smith, left, and Misty Buffington decorate cupcakes on Tuesday at Publix in preparation for the Fourth of July. Retailers are gearing up for the holiday. - photo by Autumn Vetter

When it comes to the Fourth of July, it’s all about outdoor activities.

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, nearly 70 percent of Americans plan to celebrate the holiday by holding or attending a cookout, barbecue or picnic.  

And local retailers are stocking up on items needed to make the outdoor festivities successful.

“There will be lots of grilling, yep,” said Brenda Reid, a spokeswoman for Publix Supermarkets, which has several Forsyth County locations. “You know we [Americans] are always looking for the opportunity for grilling in the summer.”

As such, the stores will have numerous outdoor eats on sale in the week ahead.

“For people who are going to be grilling out, we sell shrimp skewers and they will be on sale 10 for $10 next week,” Reid said. “Of course, spare ribs are the center of the plate for a lot of people, so those will be on sale for $1.99 a pound.”

“Traditional items” such as hot dogs, hamburgers, American cheese, baked beans and potato salad will also be featured items, Reid said.

“And pies, we’ve got lots of pies … they’re very popular because you can sit them outside when you’re eating on a picnic and they make such a beautiful presentation.”

Matt Goggins, manager of BJ’s Wholesale Club on Market Place Boulevard, said probably the two biggest grilling items for his store will be steaks and ribs.

“Our best thing will be … our meat department, our perishable department,” he said. “We also sell things for the house like patio sets, American flags and, of course, grills.”

He said the store will also offer a range of patriotic cakes and cupcakes.  

Goggins added that the store will have an open house beginning today   and running through July 8 in which non-members can shop at the warehouse store.

“It’s a special promotion we’re doing that we’ve never done before,” he said. “People who may have never tried us before, it’s just to give them an opportunity to give us a shot.”

For Leif Lingerfelt, manager at Party City, also on Market Place Boulevard, decorative items make up the bulk of his store’s July Fourth business.

“I’m already selling out of some of the merchandise, some of the bows I’m selling out of and the ribbon,” he said. “I guess there’s a parade in town and … people are decorating their floats.”

Indeed, there is a parade in town. And a big one at that. The 55th Annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade will run through Cumming on July Fourth.

The parade will begin at 10 a.m. on a route that begins on Tribble Gap Road and proceeds down Castleberry Road to the Cumming Fairgrounds.

For those post-parade cookouts, Lingerfelt said his store carries a number of items that will come in handy.

“[Customers] come in and they like to ask where our catering supplies, like our utensils, are … I’m getting a lot of that right now, so I guess people are planning ahead,” he said. “To keep [food] warm, they keep it in the aluminum pans and we sell a lot of the Sterno gel, stuff like that.”

Other items, he said, include decorative banners and table clothes, serving dishes and “old timey ketchup and mustard squeeze bottles.”

“We have our July Fourth balloons on display,” he added. “They’ll probably sell closer to the holiday. Right now, people wouldn’t get them because they wouldn’t still be afloat [on July 4].”

While many people will watch the city of Cumming’s professional fireworks display, which is scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. July 3 at the Cumming Fairgrounds, home fireworks are popular, too.

“We have fireworks for sale in all our stores and that’s always a hot item for the Fourth,” Reid said.

Lingerfelt added that the most patriotic item is his store’s biggest seller around July 4.

“And we’ve got our American flags … I don’t know the exact number, but I will probably sell hundreds,” he said. “Especially with the parade, people stand on the side of the road and wave them.”