Sunday retail sales not yet in effect

COVINGTON -- Sunday retail alcohol sales were approved by Covington and Porterdale voters last week, but don't slap a six-pack on the counter on the first day of the week just yet. Package sales won't be legal in either jurisdiction for several more weeks.

Sunday retail sales of malt beverages, wine and distilled spirits were approved by Covington voters 868 to 451. Hours of sales are limited to 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

"As of right now, we anticipate a second reading to the required ordinance change to occur on Dec. 5. Provided that the first and second readings of the proposed ordinance are approved, the change will take effect as soon after the Dec. 5 council meeting as the mayor signs the ordinance," said Covington City Manager Steve Horton.

However, Horton cautioned retailers not to begin sales without first contacting the city to verify sales are legal.

"The safest course of action is for businesses to call the acting city clerk, beginning Dec. 6, at 770-385-2010 so as to determine if the ordinance received final approval and has been signed by the mayor," he said.

In Porterdale, voters approved a referendum allowing for Sunday retail sales of beer and wine by a tally of 106 to 94 in last Tuesday's balloting. The City Council previously approved an ordinance governing the sales in July, provided the referendum was approved.

Retailers with a license to sell beer and wine in the city limits of Porterdale will be able to sell the alcoholic beverages on Sunday, beginning Dec. 15, between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, local package store owners don't seem too enthused about the new law.

"I don't want to open on Sunday," said Hardik Patel, owner of Hester's Package, adding that he's already working up to 80 hours a week. "If I open on Sundays, I'll be a stranger to my children."

Patel said he hopes liquor store owners will band together and make a pact not to open on Sundays. If one store opens, the rest will likely feel pressured, he said.

Patel said he doubts the extra day will mean many extra sales.

"People can come to the liquor store Monday through Saturday and buy whatever they want. If they can't buy it within six days, how are they going to buy it on Sunday?" he said.

Jane Alexander, owner of Newton Package Shop, said her store will remain closed on Sunday but wouldn't offer further comment except to say, "It was a personal decision."

Alexander added however, that, "I certainly voted for it."

A manager at Kroger in Newton Plaza said Sunday sales will be helpful for the store, boosting sales of alcohol, since many customers already do their grocery shopping on Sunday.

"It will help our sales. We get a lot of customers from out of town, out of state, that don't realize we can't sell alcohol on Sundays," he said.

Editor Alice Queen contributed to this story.