When I was much younger, the drive from Florence to Garden City Beach, where my family vacationed each summer, seemed like an eternity. It was in fact, about 80 miles, never more than two hours even if you had to wait for the drawbridge at Socastee to let a boat pass. I'm sure my parents prayed for the time when I could make it the whole way without needing a bathroom break.
There really wasn't much in the way of stopping points back then. But now, there is a store a little east of Marion that draws me in every time. It's Sparky's Fireworks and Gifts, located at 2416 U.S. 501 South, Marion. Open daily 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sparky's doesn't have a website, but it does have just about anything and everything else you could want.
Forget that beach souvenir for Aunt Susie? Sparky's has Myrtle Beach T-shirts and tchotchkes galore. Jonesing for something chocolate and sweet? Sparky's has so much fudge, there's even some really good sugar-free varieties. Need a quick stop to use the facilities? There is plenty of room in Sparky's restrooms.
If you're more than snack hungry, there is a restaurant, and if you forgot your shoes, Sparky's has you covered with Minnetonka Moccasins, leather boots and every type of flip-flop you can imagine. Oh yes, and let's not forget the reason Sparky's was born: fireworks. A special warehouse of a room is wall-to-wall fireworks from sparklers to blooming stars that could make you think the British are coming, again.
So if you're in the market for something that goes boom, remember don't smoke with fireworks in the car, keep them away from the kids and pets and know the local laws about where you can and can't light ‘em up.