Store owners worried about customer demand, costs


Beginning Sunday, Jackson County residents — along with Hoosiers across the state — will experience a first: the ability to purchase beer, wine and spirits to take home.

On Wednesday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law to legalize the carryout sale of alcohol from noon to 8 p.m. Sundays at liquor stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and big box retailers.

The state has an estimated 3,800 retailers that sell alcohol products.

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Indiana is the last state to legalize Sunday sales, but there are 11 other states that still restrict sales of spirits, such as whiskey, rum and vodka, on Sundays.

Keith Yazell, manager at Vick’s Liquor Store at 400 E. Tipton St., Seymour, said he was reluctant to open Sundays but said the store will be open from noon to 6 p.m. to see if customer demand is strong enough.

“I think we’re going to give it a go and see what happens,” he said earlier this week while stocking craft beer.

He said there are some concerns about the increased costs of doing business on Sundays, but he will see if there’s enough of an increase to continue to open on Sundays.

Right now, he is not optimistic.

“I don’t think we will gain much,” he said, adding there will be an increase in payroll and utility costs. “I think Sundays are being commercialized, and I think Sunday is a day of rest, and that’s how we have always treated it, but there’s a convenience factor to it.”

There’s also a staffing concern, he said. The business has eight employees, and Yazell said he doesn’t plan to add any more at this time.

Joe Hildreth, owner of Hildreth’s Liquor Mart, said he also plans to open the store at 512 W. Tipton St., Seymour, from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

“I figured we would try it out,” he said. “We will see how it goes.”

Busy Bee Liquors, 1019 E. Tipton St., Seymour, also will be open from noon to 8 p.m.

Grocery stores also have been preparing for Sunday sales.

Brooke Ratliff, the store manager at JayC Plus on Seymour’s east side, said the company updated software at cash registers in anticipation of Sunday sales.

Cash registers had been programmed to decline Sunday sales in the past.

“We’ve also contacted our distributors so we can make adjustments for inventory,” she said.

Ratliff said she expects an initial bump in sales on Sundays, but it will level off in time as consumers adjust.

It’s a historic moment for Indiana, as the state has restricted Sunday alcohol sales since becoming a state in 1816.

Some Sunday sales were allowed for travelers during the 1800s, but that practice was banned in the 1850s.

The 21st Amendment overturned prohibition in 1933, but Indiana retained the Sunday ban.

At least two local liquor stores will not be open Sunday.

Nancy Brock, who owns Northside Liquors at 821 N. Ewing St. with her husband, Charles, will be the only Seymour-based liquor store closed on Sunday. Brock announced her decision in a Facebook post.

“I finally got enough nerve to hit the send button, and my phone started blowing up,” she said.

Brock said she was surprised to see every comment was positive, adding people have stopped her to share comments.

Brock said she feels like the response is evidence she will not lose out on sales.

“I may lose some people from the interstate, and I don’t think it’s going to hurt my business,” she said.

In fact, she believes the opposite might occur.

“Kind of like Chick-fil-A, I think it’s actually helped me, and I honestly think I may have gained some customers because people are thinking that an owner of a liquor store would take such a stance,” she said.

While she won’t be open, she is not against the law.

She said it is all right if she does lose a few sales by remaining closed.

“To me, it’s not about the almighty dollar,” she said but acknowledged she doesn’t think she would even have enough sales to justify opening. Brock said she works most Sundays away on orders for the week.

Happy Herman’s Package Store, 202 W. Commerce St., Brownstown, also will not open on Sundays.

Bills to repeal the Sunday sales ban have failed repeatedly in the legislature throughout the years due to opposition by liquor store owners.

The effort this legislative session proved different, as the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers gave way by focusing on the preservation of cold carryout.

Convenience stores and big box retailers are not permitted to sell cold beer but can sell chilled wine.

That makes Indiana the only state that regulates beer sales by temperature, according to the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.

Holcomb said during a ceremony signing Senate Bill 1 into law that the law could change in the future.

“Let’s get through Sunday first,” he said. “We will cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Gone are the days for the need of Hoosiers living along the border crossing into neighboring states on Sundays to purchase alcohol, the governor said.

“There’s no need to cross the border anymore in the state of Indiana,” he said. “They’ll have the ability to do it all seven days of the week.”

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