by: Scott Wickersham Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Fireworks are smuggled across the state line and into Charlotte every Fourth of July, where fireworks draw in big sales for businesses in South Carolina.
As soon as those customers cross back into Charlotte, it's a crime.
North Carolina has very strict fireworks laws, while South Carolina has much more lenient restrictions.
That is why fireworks stores across the state border were busy Friday and many shoppers admit they're going right back across the state line.
Phantom Fireworks on Highway 521 was one of them.
Shoppers were crowding the aisles and in the parking lot there were plenty of North Carolina license plates.
Some shoppers confessed they're taking illegal fireworks back into North Carolina but the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department admits they don’t go out looking for violators.
“It’s a busy night. If we arrested everyone who shot fireworks off we'd have quite a night on our hands,” Lt. Jeff Estes said about the misdemeanor crime.
Greg Greco has sold fireworks for several years.
“Eighty-five percent of our clientele is from North Carolina,” Greco said.
He thinks North Carolina is losing out and should change the law.
All the money and sales tax revenue from North Carolina shoppers stays in the Palmetto State.
“This store does $1 million in sales annually,” Greco said.
But until the law changes, stores like Phantom Fireworks are happy to serve North Carolina customers.
Manager Dave Smith checks IDs for age restrictions but doesn't ask where fireworks are going.
“They may be traveling to somewhere here in South Carolina. We really don’t know,” Smith said.
Police said if they see or hear about a dangerous situation with fireworks they will investigate.
Phantom Fireworks does most of their business for the year in the weeks before the Fourth of July.