Once again, a bill has been proposed in Hartford aimed at allowing liquor stores to open their doors on Sundays.
This saga has repeated itself relentlessly over the years, each time ending in the same way, failure.
This year, though, momentum seems to be building in favor of finally toppling the blue law wall.
If the momentum continues area package stores will find themselves stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place.
The majority of the support in Hartford for repealing the ban has come from legislators, who represent towns located near the state’s borders. State Rep. Kathleen Tallarita (D-Enfield) is the one who filed the bill to end the ban on Sunday sales.
We understand the reasoning of those spearheading the push for Sunday sales.
Package stores in border towns are watching on Sundays as their customers, hop, skip and jump down the road for a bottle or six pack on Sundays.
With each customer that crosses the border on Sundays, these stores are losing money, and in turn the state is losing tax revenue.
Depending on which lobbyist you ask, Sunday sales could bring in as much as $8 million or as little as $140,000 in additional tax revenue. The truth, we’re certain, lies somewhere in the middle.
Sunday sales supporters argued that store owners who don’t want to open on Sundays, don’t have to because it will be their option whether they unlock their doors.
This is true. We all have free will to decide what path we’ll take in our lives.
But, the option that is left for package store owners in Naugatuck, Beacon Falls, and Prospect if Sunday sales come to fruition amounts to a decision between two evils.
Local package store owners don’t have the same problem as their brethren near the borders. Their customers don’t have an easy option of crossing the border on Sunday to buy their alcohol. So, they buy it Monday through Saturday.
All the money the state and stores along the borders are hoping to gain from Sunday sales, the local guy won’t see much, if any at all, of it. Their customers aren’t suddenly going to start drinking more if they open seven days a week.
If this bill passes, stores in towns along the border are sure to open the first Sunday possible. Then what was once their problem of people crossing the border on Sundays will soon become the problem for package stores in neighboring towns, and so on, until it spreads across the state like a virus.
Then, the only option left for liquor store owners in Naugatuck, Beacon Falls and Prospect will be whether to open up on Sundays for the same amount of profit, but higher overhead, or close on Sundays and watch their profits dwindle as customers go elsewhere.
Those are options that we can live without.