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Sunday alcohol sales under way in Gainesville
Hall County voters to decide issue in March
A sign on the front door of Sammy’s Package Store in Gainesville advertises Sunday hours. Sunday marked the first day of Sunday alcohol sales in Gainesville. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Sunday alcohol sales got off to a brisk start in Gainesville, with some patrons lining up before 12:30 p.m., the earliest time allowed by state law.

Danny Standridge of Gainesville was one of the patient ones, waiting by his pickup truck outside Sammy's Package Store, 2550 Limestone Parkway.

He said he believes Sunday sales are long overdue.

"People are going to buy it anyway, whether (stores) sell it or not (on Sundays)," he added.

Gainesville is the second local government to begin Sunday sales at liquor stores and other businesses, such as convenience and grocery stores.

Flowery Branch began Sunday sales on Nov. 20. Oakwood City Council is set to meet at 7 tonight at City Hall, 4035 Walnut Circle, to consider an ordinance setting the first day of Sunday sales in that South Hall City.

Voters in all three cities approved Sunday sales in the Nov. 8 election, with Oakwood having the slimmest margin.

"It's a tremendous thing for the customer," said Sammy P. Brown, owner of Sammy's. "We're here to serve the public ... and if this is what the public wants, then obviously we're excited about it. Hopefully, it will generate more business, as well as revenue."

Not all people, including sellers, are exactly thrilled about Sunday sales.

Ed Dover, general manager of Wagon Wheel Package Store, 3349 Thompson Bridge Road, said opening Sundays may end up costing the business more in such expenses as employee pay and utility bills than it makes in revenue.

"We just have to go with the competition making us open," he said.

Many package stores are cutting their hours short on Sundays — around 6:30 or 7 p.m. — instead of the 11:30 p.m. as allowed by law.

Even one Sammy's customer, Perry Gaffney, of Gainesville, said he believes package stores should have one day when they shouldn't sell, and Sunday seems appropriate because of church services and such.

"But here I am," Gaffney said, adding that he meant to stop by Saturday to buy beer for today's football games but got too busy doing other things.

Hall County residents will have a say March 6 — the same day as Georgia's presidential preference primary — on whether they want Sunday alcohol sales in unincorporated areas.

The Board of Commissioners has voted to put on the ballot a referendum allowing package stores, currently banned in the county, as well as Sunday package and liquor-by-the-drink sales.

Keeping straight on hours and who is authorized to sell on what dates have been points of confusion for some customers interested in buying on Sundays.

"A lot of people think the county (stores) can sell beer (on Sundays)," Dover said.