For all the buzz and uncertainty that accompanied the passage of a Sunday alcohol sales law in Macon and Bibb County, the first day of such sales was unremarkable, a sampling of stores showed.
Many local liquor stores didn’t open their doors to take advantage of an extra day of business, and those that did said their traffic and sales numbers weren’t huge.
Brenda Reid, a spokeswoman for Publix, theorized that many customers in the store Sunday didn’t remember then that they could now purchase alcohol and thus didn’t take advantage of it.
Workers at the store on Tom Hill Sr. Boulevard may not have either. For a while Sunday afternoon, lighting along the beer shelves was turned off, a traditional indication that beer is not being sold.
“Our customers can now purchase beer and alcohol on Sundays, but it takes time for people to remember they can purchase it,” Reid said. “It’s too early to gauge what impact (the new law) will have.”
Specialty stores didn’t see a huge increase in sales either.
Bill Nettleton, the owner of WineStyles on Zebulon Road, said he’ll need to give people a chance to get used to coming in on Sundays to see if he will stay open then.
“We had an OK day,” he said. “It was kind of slow. We’re going to have to see how it goes. People are used to buying on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, so there’s not a pent-up demand.”
Nettleton said it costs money to pay employees, as well as utilities, to open the store on Sundays, so sales those days have to offset those costs. “We did enough (in sales) to justify being open,” he said.
One good thing about the law, Nettleton said, is its timing, since wine sales for the holidays can be big business. That’s why WineStyles will remain open on Sundays at least through December, he said.
“The holidays are our biggest reason for staying open,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes. We’ll decide after December to see if we’ll continue to stay open on Sundays.”
Rick Kumar, the owner of Fort Hawkins Package Store on Emery Highway, said sales were “OK” at his shop.
“It was about what I expected.”
Kumar noted that with most liquor stores closed Sunday, people seeking to buy alcohol had only a few choices. He said he expects more stores to start opening on Sundays in the future.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.