Business booms in West Paris

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Lydia Mills, co-owner of AAH Fireworks in West Paris, helps Doug Nash, 22, of Turner pick out the right firework for a family gathering at a camp on Worthley Pond in Peru. Nash expected to spend about $200 on fireworks.

WEST PARIS — Doug Nash slowly pushed his shopping cart, trying to take in every cracker, snapper, rocket and missile filling the aisles of AAH Fireworks.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

AAH Fireworks offers pyrotechnics with fun names such as "Cowboy Christmas" and "Wedding Day" at its West Paris store.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Heather Dunn of South Paris shops at AAH Fireworks in West Paris on Wednesday. Dunn was looking for pyrotechnics to set off during a joint birthday party for her son and his cousin on July 4.

"This is like clothes shopping for girls," Nash of Turner said as he pushed his already full cart through the shop at 52 Penley Ave. in West Paris. "I hate to leave and think, 'Oh, I should have got this.' Anything that shoots up high and explodes really high is for me."

The carriage held hundreds of firecrackers and a bunch of tubes with powder-filled rockets that promised to light up the sky. He planned to spend about $200 on the display, destined for the sky above a family camp on Worthley Pond in Peru.

"I hate to spend that much money for about one minute of fun," he said. "Once a year, I can see doing it." But the money was spread across several family members and the display itself would be spread out over 30 minutes or so.

And he wasn't alone.

Hours before Maine celebrated their second Independence Day holiday after the legalization of fireworks, business boomed.

"It's better than it was last year," AAH Fireworks owner Andre Vandenbulcke said.

He began 2012 with a January fire that consumed the old Penley Mill he used as a warehouse. Though none of his fireworks were inside, Vandenbulcke lost his trucks and other equipment.

His first Independence Day holiday went well, but customers unaccustomed to fireworks shops were learning about what they liked and what they want.

This year, the business has been stronger. People are getting to know what they want, slowly.

"What's big?" they ask. "And what's loud?"

Vandenbulcke tries to answer.

"It's always an education," he said. "I always tell people to ask questions." The package of each of his 380 items describe its explosion. To help further, he installed computer tablets with short videos of each product's explosion. More information was posted online at

The fireworks are all part of Vandenbulcke's own brand.

The Salisbury, Mass., native began working with fireworks at 14, stocking and unloading trailers at Fireworks Over the Border Inc. in Seabrook, N.H. He graduated from Gould Academy in Bethel in 2000 and started managing Fireworks Over the Border Inc.

He traveled to China in 2006 and began importing and wholesaling his own AAH Fireworks.

He supplies 18 stores, including locations in Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Florida and Texas. West Paris serves as his home base.

On Wednesday, he watched as people bought products with names such Cracker Bombs, Hot Rods, As Good as Gold, Size Does Matter and The Committee.

Nancy Michaud of Norway pushed a cart carrying two Box O' Bombs.

"These are really the best," she said. "We got them last year. They're like the real fireworks you see at displays. These go way up."

Meanwhile, Nash wandered the aisles trying to decide how to best celebrate the holiday.

He wanted something big, something now and, if possible, something that ended with a crackle.

"I was always the kid that liked playing with fire," he said. "Once fireworks became legal in Maine, they had a hard time keeping me away."

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You're kidding!

Fireworks stores are busy around the time of the fourth?? Amazing! I bet you think it's news that Haven's is really busy on Feb 13 and the week before Easter, too!

Dont forget to thank Governor

Dont forget to thank Governor Lepage and your GOP legislator. For the short time
the GOP had the majority in Augusta, they passed the law allowing this.

Yeah, I'll thank them for the

Yeah, I'll thank them for the fact that my dogs are hiding under the bed and we can't sleep at night because of all the jerks who spend all Summer setting off fireworks up the road until Midnight.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

This just came in from the ASPCA

Canine Anti-Anxiety Help
Wed, 07/03/2013 - 23:05 — Michaela Putbres (Visitor)
Before fireworks and such I make my fur baby a bowl of chamomile tea with ice cubes in it. She seems to like the taste and it works as a natural calming aide. It doesn't make her drowsy, but does seem to take the " edge off" and able to handle the stressors of loud noises easier.

Michaela has a fur baby, now that is a first, I ever heard that one!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Increased damages and danger for others

From massive personal human damage and dismemberment and property damage from irresponsible users and drunken idiots shooting them off, keeping others up to late hours. Plus yes, my dogs are terrified and stay downstairs. My neighbor down the road last year where out at 2am, drunk and burnt down his barn.

Must be irresponsible

Must be irresponsible liberals using them in your area. Us conservatives use them responsibly, with respect for others.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

You respect nothing on others rights....Us Conservatives?

Not voters rights, womens rights, LBGT rights, other religions, Latinos rights, poor peoples rights..

Nothing, Nada....
I sure hope you did not procreate any living thing onto this earth...

You are really so full of it, you must have brown eyes, teeth and bad breath, too....

you really are a moonbat! LOL

you really are a moonbat! LOL

Jerry, dude. You really need

Jerry, dude. You really need to do something about those anger issues...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Trust me it's not anger; I am actually always calm and collective, I enjoy getting under his kinds skin and push their buttons....possibly stroke them out...

Wayne this one thing we both

Wayne this one thing we both agree on.

I think I'm gonna throw up.

I think I'm gonna throw up.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Actually SFB

He is a teabagger with his yellow snake loving Tbag flag on his pole....

Calling you stupid would be an insult to stupid people.

Mike Savage was right, your

Mike Savage was right, your type suffers from mental mind disorder. Get help Jerry.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Mikey hates your hero Hannity and others,,,wow...eating your own

It seems as though Savage also has beef with Levin’s good friend Sean Hannity, mostly on the grounds that the Fox News host is a “fake conservative.” On his Monday evening show, Savage took to bashing Hannity for what he believes is the cable news host’s desire to go to war with Syria.

“Some of the so-called conservatives are in favor of American men dying,” Savage began. “For example… Sean Hannity — who is known to be one of the, let us say, most shallow men in the America media, who gives conservatism its reputation of being shallow — back in 2012, called for war in Syria.”

Reacting to the old Fox clip in which Hannity decried the “prescription for disaster” seen in Syria now that the regime has the capabilities to use chemical weapons, Savage said: “You’re like a bad pharmacist. And if anyone takes your pill, they’re liable to get poisoned rather than cured. Because what you’re doing there is putting out so many ideas that are fraudulent that it gives true conservatives a bad name.”

Savage then went on to lambast “another fake conservative” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and mock him as a “gun for hire” and “super-lobbyist” for “American boys dying” in a potential conflict with Syria.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Mikey your hero....

said on Monday when this whole VA Tech thing broke that the only reason that the MSM hadn't identified the shooter was because he wasn't a "white male" and that it was probably an islamic terrorist so that is why they haven't gone with it yet.

Fox & Friends over pundit Michael Savage, who O'Reilly called a “crazy right-wing talk-show host.

Gohmert Praises Shock Jock Michael Savage As "Voice Of Reason." Gohmert another whack job with even stupider remarks..

I rest my case, you follow losers and listen to idiots....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Mike Savage? Mr. Anger himself...

Dennis you talk about a guy that has mental disorders as you would take advice and solace in a whackjob like him tells a lot about where you have issues with any type of (Not) thinking, since you let folks like him think for you.

Now that explains it all....

Have a nice day Jerry, I'm

Have a nice day Jerry, I'm off to celebrate our nations great Holiday. You know, the holiday that us Tea Party people cherish. By the way thanks to our great governor, we are going to have a great fireworks display.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Have fun

Dennis, keep the kids safe and keep clear....

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Look on the bright side, Jerry.....

Maybe this year they will burn down their house. Problem solved.


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