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Sunday package sales see few customers

POSTED: April 25, 2012 4:00 a.m.

Sales were off to a slow start when package liquor stores opened for the first time Sunday in unincorporated Dawson County.

"I had about 40 customers all day," said Mike Keeney, owner of RK Package on Prestige Lane.

Keeney said he plans to stay open on Sundays for at least two months to see if business improves.

"People are programmed to come in Saturdays," he said. "We'll stay open until it doesn't benefit us anymore."

On April 19, commissioners approved revisions to the county's alcohol ordinance that allow package sales from 12:30 to 11:30 p.m. on Sundays.

The vote followed a county referendum in March that passed by about 63 percent to 37 percent in favor of Sunday sales.

Keeney said he believes supermarkets benefit more from the recent change.

"I think it's great for the grocery stores, but I don't know of any liquor stores that wanted this," he said.

Jerry Sugarman, who operates Premium Package near the round-a-bout at Dawson Forest and Lumpkin Campground roads, said he saw similar business on Sunday.

"Some of the people didn't realize it was the first day they could buy alcohol on Sunday since the city of Dawsonville made it legal last year and Forsyth County started a few weeks ago," he said."I think once the word gets out, it'll pick up."

Sunday package sales were illegal in Georgia until last year when Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation that gave county and city governments the ability to hold referendums on the matter.

The Dawsonville City Council moved quickly to let municipal voters decide if they wanted Sunday sales at package, grocery and convenience stores.

Voters in the city approved the measure by a nearly 63 percent to 37 percent margin on Nov. 8.

Russ Marcotte, owner of City Liquor, the lone package store in the downtown area, said the measure has been well received by the public.

"I've been quite happy with the outcome," he said.

Marcotte added that he hasn't seen a drop in sales on Sundays with the opening of the county's package stores.

"We knew we weren't going to always remain exclusive," he said. "People do have a choice and we don't forget that."

While the long-term impact of Sunday sales remains uncertain, one thing is clear.

"It's now a seven-day work week for us," Marcotte said.

The alcohol ordinance revisions also allow restaurants to sell distilled spirits on Sundays. Previously restaurants could sell only beer and wine after 12:30 p.m.


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