Sunday liquor sales spark debate

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Indiana lawmakers are considering a change that would allow Hoosiers to buy beer, wine and spirits on Sundays at liquor stores and grocery stores.

The battle pits grocery stores, which want to sell spirits on Sunday, against liquor stores, which don't.

One side argues it's a case of fairness. The other side says it's a case of survival.

It's been debated for years. Go to any establishment and ask about Sunday liquor sales in Indiana and you will get an opinion.

We asked a Lester Wright, a transplanted Hoosier from Atlanta, who was shopping at a package liquor store what he thought about Sunday liquor sales.

"You can go to a pub or go to a restaurant and have alcohol. It's not like it's any different," he said.

Megan Blankenship was shopping at a large grocery store.

"There have been many times I have come to the store and wanted to buy some alcohol but haven't been able to," she said.

Package liquor stores say a change in the law to allow Sunday liquor sales would only benefit the big grocery and convenience stores.

Ray Cox owns Elite Liquors in Indianapolis. He believes the legislation targets the small package liquor stores.

"Colorado went to Sunday sales in 2008 and since then they have seen a decline in package stores of 9.1 percent," he said.

Then there is the case of Thortons. Earlier this year company decided to expand by 22 new stores in Florida. Five years ago, the company decided not to expand in Indiana because of its antiquated liquor laws.

Scott Imus, who represents the Indiana Petroleum and Convenience Stores, testified about that very point before a House Committee taking up the bill on Wednesday.

"Hundreds of good jobs lost and for what reason? Because less than 600 liquor store owners want a government-mandated day off or don't want to compete in a fair an open marketplace," said Imus.

Kroger, which is one of the supporters lobbying for a change allowing Sunday liquor sales, argues the law is costing the company in sales and jobs.

John Elliott, who handles public relations for Kroger, testified at the same hearing.

"Revenue for the state. Revenue in jobs for Indiana business. Convenience and free choice for Indiana consumers. I really don't see what the negative side of this is," said Elliott.

Indiana is one of a dozen states to restrict Sunday sales but it's unique by not allowing carry out. Others, like a pastor from Indianapolis, see it as a quality of life issue.

"Sunday is a day of rest and worship. Sunday is a date that is different than any other kind of day. Sunday is a special day," he said.

The bill author pointed out that this legislation does not dictate any retailer has to be open on Sunday. It just gives them the option to do business on that day. Package liquor stores say if the bill is passed they will not have an option. They will have to compete on Sunday.

Read the proposed House bill.