Locals excited about Sunday alcohol sales

Merchants give thumbs up to ordinance

James McWhorter said he is looking forward to seeing the long-term impact Sunday alcohol sales will have on his McDonough business.

It has already made an impact in the short-term.

“It makes a difference that people can come in and buy it [alcohol]— especially out-of-town travelers. I’m very excited,” said the 40-year-old manager of the RaceTrac gas station at 1320 Ga. Highway 20 West.

Voters in McDonough, Stockbridge, Hampton and Locust Grove authorized package alcohol sales for Sundays, during the Nov. 8, municipal elections. The results were certified this month by Henry County Elections and Registration Director Janet Shellnutt.

McDonough is the first city in Henry County permitting Sunday sales, which began Nov. 20.

McWhorter has worked at the McDonough Racetrac for five years. His Sunday business increased 62 percent, he said, as a result of being able to sell beer and wine. McWhorter said word is still getting out about the option to purchase alcohol on Sundays in his city.

“The ones who knew about it were very excited,” he said. “There was some who didn’t know, but they said they will be taking advantage of it.”

Another McDonough business benefiting from Sunday alcohol sales is the BP gas station, at 194 Keys Ferry St. A shift manager at the location, who would not give his name, said his Sunday business has jumped roughly 75 percent, following the enactment of the city’s new ordinance.

“I was working on Sundays before we started selling beer,” he said. “It was really slow, and really boring because the time wouldn’t pass. Ever since we started selling beer, the time goes by just like that,” he said with a snap of his finger.

“It’s been crazy,” added the shift manager, who has worked at the BP for six years. “The first day we started selling beer, I got, like, 20 or 30 calls asking if we were selling beer on Sunday. We were getting calls from other cities, asking if we had started selling beer. Especially on Thanksgiving Day, we had people from other cities, probably visiting relatives, and when they found out we were selling beer, they said we were lucky people, because in their cities, they cannot get beer on Sunday.”

Henry County Chamber of Commerce President Kay Pippin said she has not yet determined the effect Sunday alcohol sales will have on area businesses.

“I don’t have any specific numbers to have a feel for how it’s going — at least not yet,” said Pippin. “The important thing about this issue, is that the voters made the decision. We’ll just have to see how it impacts our local economy.”

McDonough Mayor Pro Tempore Sandra Vincent signed the Sunday alcohol-sales measure over the summer, in case the vote was favorable. “Our council adopted a resolution [while I was in the hospital] subject to the voters adopting Sunday retails sales,” said McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland.

The county’s remaining three cities are working to determine when to begin allowing Sunday alcohol sales in their areas. Shellnutt said there are no liquor stores operating outside the city limits of any municipality in Henry.

Shellnutt said, prior to the advent of Sunday alcohol sales in Henry, she had received several calls in the wake of the election, from angry residents inquiring about when they could purchase alcohol on a Sunday in their municipality.

She said Sunday alcohol sales will not be allowed outside the city limits of any municipality, unless the Henry County Board of Commissioners authorizes such sales in the 2012 election.

Henry Commission Chairman Elizabeth “B.J.” Mathis said her board has not discussed whether to allow Sunday alcohol sales in unincorporated portions of the county.