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Border Towns Eye Possible MN Fireworks Law

April 4, 2012, 10:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Border Towns Eye Possible MN Fireworks Law

Lawmakers in Minnesota are considering legislation that would legalize the use of aerial fireworks in the state, which concerns South Dakota border communities.

Current law only allows ground-based fireworks so any others are often bought in neighboring states.

You could easily walk to Minnesota from Big Stone City. So it's no surprise the small South Dakota community draws a lot of people from its neighboring state come fireworks season. That could change if Minnesota lets retailers set up shop.

"It could shut us down," Kim Kolb said.

Kolb and his sister own Ken's Fireworks in Big Stone City. He estimates more than 80 percent of their customers come from Minnesota, some from up to 100 miles away. He isn't sure they'd make the trip if they could buy fireworks in their home towns.

"I'd like to see the business continue to be good enough to remain in Big Stone," Kolb said.

But if more fireworks are legalized in Minnesota and his business takes a huge hit, he'd have to consider moving to a place the business could survive.

Two percent of the money from sales goes to the city through taxes so the small border town could lose some too.

"Any time you lose any type of business or revenue in a town this size, you notice it," Big Stone City Mayor Deb Wiik said.

Wiik estimates fireworks sales will bring between $2,000 and $5,000 into the city, depending on the year. Some years that number could be higher Wiik says. With ongoing expenses that's money she'd like to see stick around.

"Hopefully, we can make it up some place else," Wiik said.

That is, if the Minnesota law even passes and it takes business away from Big Stone City. For now, no one's really sure.

"Just waiting to see what happens. I hope they act on it soon so we can figure out what we're going to do," Kolb said.

There are a half dozen firework retailers in Big Stone City during the summer. We spoke with another one who said she set lower prices to draw people to her shop. So with lower profit margins her business would not survive if her customer base drops.

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