Liquor stores see brisk sales on first Sunday open

When employees at Mr. B's Liquor Beer & Wine pulled up to the business on 13th Street in Columbus early Sunday afternoon they were surprised by what they saw.

"Customers were already lined up outside waiting," salesperson Kinsey Shoupe said. "It has been busy since then."

Shoupe said that Monday and Tuesday are the slowest days for the business but things usually pick up on Wednesday.

"This feels like a Wednesday," she said.

Yesterday was the first time that Sunday alcohol sales were allowed in Columbus. The measure to allow the package sales on Sunday was approved by 58 percent of Muscogee County voters last month.

Many metropolitan jurisdictions have chosen to allow the Sunday sales since the Georgia General Assembly decided last year to leave it up to individual communities.

Despite the brisk business, Shoupe said Mr. B's will wait until February to decide if it is profitable to stay open on Sunday.

"I'm celebrating a piece of freedom," one of the store's customers, Uwe Thielbeer, said. He held a bottle of rum in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other as he spoke.

"It is about time for this to happen. It was a restriction," the 55-year-old Columbus man said of the ban. "This means I don't have to drive to Phenix City for what I want and the revenue stays in Columbus. Alcohol was already being sold in restaurants anyway."

Twana Humphrey of Columbus also was shopping at Mr. B's.

"I don't see anything wrong with it," she said of the Sunday sales. "People want alcohol on Sunday, they are going to get it somehow. Let the stores here be open and benefit."

At a nearby Piggly Wiggly Supermarket, 21-year-old Sarah Nicholas purchased a bottle of wine to share at her home with a friend.

"I know some people hate the idea and some love it," Nicholas said of Sunday alcohol sales. "I think it is a good idea. It is good for the economy."

The restaurant food server also likes the idea of not having to go to across the river on a Sunday.

Observing customers at other grocery stores, bottles of wine and beer were seen in many carts.

Some liquor store owners put up signs outside their stores during the election asking people to vote no on the measure. The owners said the profits would not cover the costs of an additional day of business.

Wayne Russell, owner of Boo's Package Store on Whitesville Road, was not one of them.

"We never participated in anything like that because we are here to serve the customers. It is their decision," Russell said.

Russell said his Sunday business had been "steady" since the store opened at 12:20 p.m.

"There has not been a time when a car was not in the lot," Russell said. "It really did surprise me. It is more than I expected."

As he spoke, a customer arrived in a taxi, ran into the store, made a purchase then left.

Another customer told a sales clerk she was from the north and never understood the Sunday ban.