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Sunday sales a mixed bag for liquor stores

Posted: August 27, 2012 - 10:03am  |  Updated: August 28, 2012 - 11:08pm
Steve Smith rings up the sale of a Coca-Cola at Spirits Drive Thru to Brittany Hemion, manager of the Great Clips located near the Evans package store. Spirits is one of the Columbia County package stores to open on Sundays starting this week.  Photo by Barry Paschal
Photo by Barry Paschal
Steve Smith rings up the sale of a Coca-Cola at Spirits Drive Thru to Brittany Hemion, manager of the Great Clips located near the Evans package store. Spirits is one of the Columbia County package stores to open on Sundays starting this week.

Starting Sunday, it will be legal to buy alcohol on the Sabbath in Columbia County.

While consumers might find joy in the end of the county’s Sunday prohibition, package stores are more ambivalent about the change.

“I looked into what this might mean a year ago and really, it seems like sort of a mixed bag,” said Richard Reeves, the owner of Spirits on Washington Road in Evans.

He said that while some states have reported a sharp rise in revenues based on the introduction of Sunday sales – as much as 10 or 15 percent – others have had more modest increases.

“I’m hoping it works out,” he said. “But probably it will just even out.”

Allan Barrett, the owner of Toast Wine and Beverage on Furys Ferry Road in Martinez, said that while he may now legally open his business on Sunday, he is choosing not to.

“We’re taking the Chick-fil-A approach and giving everyone the day off,” he said. “We just don’t agree with it.”

He said he is skeptical that adding an extra day will lead to an increase in sales.

“I think all it will do is spread them out,” he said. “It will take some from Saturday and take some from Monday.”

Just down the street, J & L’s Wine and Spirits also is choosing to close on Sunday.

While Harvard’s Wine & Beverage on Old Evans Road will open, its employees are concerned about how staffing the extra day will affect their personal lives.

“We aren’t all that happy about it,” said Danielle Pledger, the store’s manager. “It does mean an extra day of work and that means time away from our families. Some of us do have kids.”

Although customers might find the freedom of purchasing a bottle of wine for Sunday dinner intoxicating, few retailers believe it will require significantly more stock. Pledger said there are no plans to increase inventory.

“We aren’t going to do anything special at all,” she said. “We think it’s probably going to be an ordinary day.”

Reeves said because both Richmond County and the city of Grovetown preceded Columbia County in Sunday sales, much of the novelty has probably worn off.

He said any increase probably will have less to do with when people shop as how. During the week most of his business comes from people stopping in on their way from one place to another, and he wondered if Sunday sales will allow people the opportunity to browse and make the occasional impulse purchase.

“Either way, I really don’t see how we can’t be open,” he said. “I’ve had customers ask. And the way I see it is, if you are in business, you are in business to serve the customer.”

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