Oldtimers might find the issue reminiscent of a rural dry county's vote on going wet: Both the Baptists and the bootleggers are against it.
Both the Georgia Christian Coalition and local liquor stores are urging voters to reject a local ballot referendum authorizing Columbus Council to OK Sunday alcohol sales.
It's a question of public safety, not religion, said Jerry Luquire of the state Christian Coalition: "We think it's a bad idea to expand drinking especially on the weekend, because of the access of so many young people who are busy during the week, and this is another Saturday for them. Accidents are the No. 1 killer of young people, and alcohol is the leading cause of those accidents, so we think that the further away young folks stay from alcohol, the safer they are," Luquire said.
"So by making it less available, they stay safe. That's been our entire objective, the safety, not any religious issue. Safety is the main thing."
Safety isn't the only reason to vote against Sunday sales, said Ralph Smith, owner of the 12th Street liquor store Mr. B's. But it is one of them.
"I know Fridays and Saturdays when people get out and party, that's when we have more problems on the streets; the police have more problems. I think without a doubt, the first time we're open on Sunday, the police department, the mayor, the police chief are going to put more cars on the street Sunday night," Smith said. "They're going to have to."
The main reason liquor stores don't want Sunday sales is the overhead, he said. They don't think the profits will cover the costs.
"Just because I'm open seven days a week does not mean that you're going to buy any more, therefore if we're open seven days a week, it doesn't mean that we're going to sell any more," Smith said. "But I'm going to have to hire two or three people to work on Sunday . So in essence we have stayed open another day, we've put more labor into this business that we're not going to get any more sales from, so that means either I'm going to pay for it or you're going to pay for it."
Why would his store have to be open?
"Competitive reasons, because everybody else is open," he said.
Yet hardly anyone wants to be open, it seems. Rental signs urging residents to vote down Sunday sales shine outside package stores all over town.
"If you ride around to most every store in town, you'll find a sign out front that says vote no for Sunday sales. We don't want to be open," Smith said.
But liquor stores aren't the only businesses that sell alcohol. Grocery and convenience stores have beer and wine -- and chips and dips and soft drinks and ice and other supplies a sports fan's likely to buy in Phenix City if he has to go there Sunday for the beer.
"The liquor stores don't want to open on Sunday.... They would like all of us to be like Chick-Fil-A," said Jim Tudor of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores. "The grocery stores and convenience stores which are already open on Sunday have favored this historically."
His association does not tell people how to vote, he said. It believes in local control: "If Columbus wants to continue to see its business go to Alabama, then hey, vote that way. That's the reality of the situation. It's not going to stop the sales from occurring. It's just going to determine where they occur," he said.
With those beer and wine sales go all the collateral purchases, the gas, snacks and Cokes.
In his business that's called "the market basket," and it's a one-stop shop.
"We are a convenience store, which means that you are going to make one stop," Tudor said. "If you have to make three stops -- you've got to stop to get your gas, stop to get your smokes, and a stop to get your beer -- you're not a convenience store. To the extent that you can complete all of your transactions in one stop, we call it your market basket. We've always said that, when we were talking to people about the impact of cross-border sales -- that you lose not just that item, you lose the market basket."