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Q & A with a Phantom Fireworks Employee

As it draws closer to the 'Christmas' of the fireworks business, Patch took some time to get inside the heads of the people who make your celebrations sparkle

For many, fireworks only come around once or a few times a year.

Although, a certain breed of individuals live and breath for colorful, gunpowder-packed explosions: the fireworks retailers.

Patch took some time to speak with a seasonal employee and some managers at Phantom Fireworks, located at 3 Chevy Chase Road in Seabrook, to learn about their busy season and find out about some of the quirks of the business.

The following is a transcript of part of an interview with Jaymie Walton, a 23-year-old Kingston resident who has worked as a seasonal cashier at Phantom since she was 18. .

So, why a fireworks store? What drew you in to this kind of job?

Walton: First of all, I grew up with it my whole life because my mom's the manager. Mom was always working real busy during the summer, and I couldn't wait to be 18 so I could work here and spend more time with her.

What has made you want to return every year?

Walton: It’s fun. It's such a blast because people are in such a good mood buying fireworks. How could you not be? 

We do have quite a bit of fun here. We have security guards who work in other showrooms, and they all request to work here. Everyone in here is family and friends. My mother’s my best firend, so who wouldn’t want to work for your best friend?

I can imagine it isn't always easy working for your mom, though.

Walton: Of course. She can be a little more pushy with me than the other employees because she's my mom and the manager. I can’t get word in during the day at all... but there are more positives than negatives.

So there's no preferential treatment?

Walton: I try, but I’m treated exactly the same as all the other employees.

What do you do in the offseason?

Walton: I get to stay on -- not full-time, which ends probably a few weeks after the Fourth. My hours kind of get lesser and lesser after the busy season.

I had lyme disease, and it ruined three years [and college] for me. Because my mom's the manager here, I'm able to be a little flexible. I couldn't work or get out of bed for a while, and I'm just starting to feel good again. I'm hoping after this season to do a 2-year medical assisting degree at Hesser College in Salem, although I'll still work here too.

Is this a tough job, being that some employees like your mom are working 10-, 12- and 15-hour shifts because of the high volume of customers?

Walton: It can be. We're only working with six other people on the registers and baggers, but we're all pretty much friends and family so it makes me feel comfortable and relaxed. There are people, though, who come in mad because some fireworks or rockets or whatever aren't legal in New Hampshire, and we get customers that no matter how much free stuff they get, they want more.

It gets amplified as it gets closer to the Fourth. The last couple days I come in and it's just like, "Oh my god, I can’t find a parking spot." That's overwhelming in itself. I just get over to register and my day just starts. Even though it can get stressful, the day just flies by.

Even though you love it, do you think you'll celebrate when you leave to go on to a new career or a four-year school after Hesser? You're at a fireworks store and everything here is about big celebrations. So, pardon the cliche, but do you plan to go out with a bang?

Walton: I wouldn’t really want to celebrate because it'll be kind of sad not working here. Hopefully I have a job and career in medical assisting and I'll probably go to school for few years after that and work in medicine.

Even in the busy season, though, I might still come in and work a few hours. It wouldn’t be this time of year if wasn’t here and being around the fireworks fans. The environment definitely keeps you coming back, whether it be the employees or the customers.

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